Can a Massage Close the Deal?

I still remember my first professional massage at a swanky spa. I was a little nervous at the prospect of a stranger touching me. The room was small, scented with candles, and soothing new-agey music was piped in though a well-concealed speaker. I stood there wrapped in my big plush earth-toned towel staring at the massage table.

Was I really going to stretch out on that contraption with my face poking through a vinyl donut-hole and let someone I didn’t even know sink their fingers into my skin?

Yes. Yes I was.

I sat on the table to wait for the massage therapist. When she came in, she was pretty business as usual. I guess a nervous 30-something woman clutching a towel to her bosom was nothing new for her.

As she began her work on me I was plagued with thoughts such as, “oh my god, I hope I don’t have razor stubble, how can she stand to touch someone’s razor stubble?!”.

The next thing I remember was being woken up and quickly wiping the spot of drool off the corner of my mouth.

I felt drugged — euphorically drugged. Blissful, flush with content and relaxation. I wanted to hug someone. Curl up like a cat in someone’s lap and purr.

According to Neuroeconomonists, this feeling we get from massage is likely due to the release of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. When released in our body, we feel bonded, we feel trust, we feel secure.  And this rush of trust helps us feel more comfortable with our spending decisions.

While some salespeople use a light touch while talking to clients, I would imagine that a mini-massage could be a fabulous win-win for certain types of businesses. Complimentary massage could work well for a lot of service industries such as hotels, salons, and even doctors or dentist offices. But small retail businesses could find creative ways to bring a little pre-purchase touch to the sales floor.

What about clothing stores? Or furniture stores (particularly mattress stores). What do you think? How could small businesses create a win-win with touch?


  1. says

    Apparently any warm, physical contact can release oxytocins, even something as simple as a handshake or a hug. Maybe incorporating a lot of touching in your business dialogue (especially as a sales person) can increase your sales. Very interesting stuff!

    (unfortunately not much help to us digital people :) )

  2. says


    It’s true that most physical contact (except when uninvited and unwanted) can release oxytocin, but I suspect there would be quite a difference in how much.

    It seems like this approach would work best for high ticket items with low foot traffic where a lot of buying (or general) anxiety is present. Another area this would work really well that isn’t related to purchasing decision, but WOULD be related to loyalty, would be to offer mini-massages at the dentist office or specialist doctor’s office before treatments that are anxiety provoking and pain-inducing.

  3. says

    I loved this post! And now that explains why sometimes I need a hug after a good back rub too..I mean… I think trying to creatively work in this kind of interaction could be a huge draw for business. It’s the – come in for a free 10 min massage and maybe sign up for something, or walk out with a scented candle or two. Professionally it’s also income and exposure for the person/company giving the massages. Everyone wins!!

  4. says

    Nunzio, exactly. Win-win! Which is my favorite thing in marketing.

    Offering massage would work really well for businesses with low foot traffic and high ticket items. This makes offering the service manageable for the business, and helps to relax the customer who is looking to purchase something large (and theoretically will therefore have for a long time) which can be anxiety provoking.

    Other businesses could offer it as a special treatment once in a while. All kinds of creatie ways that could be used, such as sending out a personal invite to premiere customers for a special evening where massage and private shopping is combined. Close down to the general public and have shopping for only premiere customers. Could work REALLY well during the holiday season. Not during last few days rush, but perhaps three weeks before? You could very well make someone so comfortable and happy that they’ll do ALL their shopping in that one evening!

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