This is interesting.
Companies that offer interactive Web sites to consumers have a two to five times greater chance of selling their products than those that only provide static information, according to a University of Washington professor.
"Virtual product demonstrations that allow individuals to interact with merchandise create more vivid mental images of the consumer using the products, thereby increasing the likelihood they'll purchase the item," said Ann Schlosser, UW Business School assistant professor of marketing. "We've found that the more easily individuals can envision themselves using a product, the more likely they are to buy it."
Schlosser studied how consumers' buying intentions are influenced and affected by their participation in virtual-reality product demonstrations. She found that when users could manipulate products in the virtual world, their likelihood of making a purchase was much higher than when they received this information in a read-only, video or storyboard format.
Corporate Web sites should cater to true customer emotions and needs–not what we'd like to have them need. That would be the equivalent of wanting to sell empty seats on an airplane headed for Alaska to folks who want to get a suntan. I think we can all learn from Timberland's lesson.
This seems like it would be common sense, but those of you with experience in the world of business know that common sense is often lacking.