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Print Marketing: Exploring the Allure of a Soft Touch Finish

A hand holding a printed brochure that has a soft touch finish

One big advantage that print marketing has over digital marketing is that printing is real and tangible. Unlike pixels on a screen, ink on paper exists in physical form. Hence, a printed piece can be held in one's hands, its texture can be felt, and it can be manipulated to view all sides.

So printing not only appeals to our sense of sight, it also appeals to our sense of touch. This is why print marketing remains so popular in a world dominated by online communication. It provides a more meaningful connection than its digital counterpart.

In today's competitive marketplace, the desire to further differentiate printed marketing materials explains why the printing industry has seen a surge in "soft touch" finishing. Soft touch has grown in popularity because it takes the sensory experience to a whole new level. It captivates consumers in ways conventional print marketing or digital marketing cannot.

This article will explain what a soft touch finish is, what makes it so alluring, and the role it plays in enhancing consumer perception of a brand.

What is a Soft Touch Finish?

In the printing industry, a Soft Touch Finish refers to a special surface treatment used to enhance certain print projects. In addition to softening the appearance of the underlying ink colors and adding a sense of depth, a soft touch finish is able to do something quite sophisticated: appeal to the sense of touch.

Unlike traditional gloss or matte coatings, a soft touch finish adds a very pleasant texture to printed pieces, similar to the soft feel of velvet or suede. By increasing the sensory level to include both touch and sight, the distinctive and often unexpected sensation of a soft touch finish encourages a deeper engagement with the printing.

How is a Soft Touch Finish applied?

A soft touch finish can be applied to printed pieces using several techniques. A special liquid top coat can be applied to the printing, such as an aqueous soft-touch coating or a UV soft-touch coating. As these liquid coatings dry, they develop a soft-touch feel. A soft-touch can also be achieved by applying a plastic laminate film that has been specially textured with a soft touch finish.

Below is a quick overview of the two soft touch coating options as well as the laminate film option…

Soft Touch Aqueous Coating -

As its name implies, an aqueous soft touch coating is water based. It is the most affordable method for attaining a soft touch finish. However, it is not quite as durable as the UV coating or laminate options. So keep that in mind if the printed pieces are intended to see frequent use.

Also, soft touch aqueous can only be applied to an entire sheet as a flood coat. It cannot be applied as a spot coating.

Soft Touch UV Coating -

A soft touch UV coating is made from polymer resins, so it is more durable than an aqueous soft touch coating. After being applied in liquid form, a soft touch UV coating is exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) light for curing. The UV light triggers a chemical reaction that instantly transforms the liquid polymer into a solid, thus creating a durable coating.

A soft touch UV coating can be applied to an entire sheet as a flood coat. It can also be applied as a spot finish to select areas on the sheet.

A roll of soft touch laminating film
A roll of soft touch laminating film mounted on its applicator

Soft Touch Laminate -

A soft touch laminate is a translucent plastic film that is bonded to print materials. The surface of the laminate has a soft touch texture.

Of all the methods available for adding a soft touch finish to print materials, the laminate film option offers the most durability.

Whether a soft touch finish is applied as an aqueous coating, UV coating or a laminate, its low-sheen finish looks best when applied over dull or matte coated stocks.

Also, in addition to adding a premium look and feel, a soft touch finish helps to improve the longevity of printed pieces by providing a layer of resistance to scuffs, fingerprints, and general wear and tear.

The Allure of a Soft Touch Finish

It has long been known that humans have an affinity for soft textures. Over the centuries, softness has come to be associated with luxury and comfort (this probably explains why gloves and slippers are lined with fur or fleece and not burlap).

Also, our sense of touch is strongly linked to emotions. Things that feel soft often evoke positive feelings, such as calmness, relaxation, and safety.

That said, most consumers expect a printed brochure, catalog, postcard, or other printed item to have a plain, smooth surface…because that would be considered the norm. So when they encounter print materials that have a soft touch finish instead, it triggers a deeper sensory connection. A connection that is likely to elicit positive feelings.

In turn, these positive feelings lead the consumer to a more favorable interaction with the company, product, or service being promoted. Attention is heightened, features and benefits are explored more thoroughly, and a purchase decision is more likely to be contemplated.

Because a soft touch finish is able to involve multiple senses (sight and touch) and evoke positive feelings and emotions, consumers find it extremely alluring. Whether this attraction occurs consciously or subconsciously, the soft touch finish does an amazing job of steering a buying decision in the right direction.

A seated person holding open a large book
A Soft Touch finish applied to a book cover

A Soft Touch Finish enhances Brand Perception

As we just discussed, the way something feels can significantly impact consumer perception. Since a soft touch finish is quite distinctive, it gives an impression of high quality. As a result, brands that incorporate a soft touch finish into their print marketing are often perceived as being a premium brand.

This perception of high value can make a product or service more desirable, a key factor in determining how much consumers are willing to pay for it. So by incorporating a soft touch finish, businesses can actually enhance the perceived value of their products and services. This can increase consumer satisfaction and enable the potential to command a higher price point.

Also, an interaction with soft touch is something a consumer will remember...and a memorable experience reinforces brand recall. By strategically incorporating a soft touch finish into your print marketing strategy, especially for high impact marketing pieces like brochures, business cards and presentation folders, you can elevate your brand and stand out from the competition.

Want to learn more about the Benefits of Soft Touch?

A soft touch finish has the power to positively influence consumer behavior. So if you would like to explore the benefits of adding a soft touch finish to an upcoming print project, be sure to get in touch with Color Vision Printing. We've been a producer of quality printing since 1984 and our services are extremely affordable.

Just give us a call at 800-543-6299 to discuss your project. Or, if you already know your specs, you can submit a quick quote request by clicking here. As always, we look forward to assisting with your printing and finishing needs!

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