Literature

Product Design and Its Impact on Functional Product Information

Marketers and academics agree that product design is important, and there exists a large body of managerial and quantitative research on design as a component of the new product development process. Consumer research on design, however, has been somewhat limited. Consumer behavior investigations into product appearance have included examinations of behavioral responses to product form (Silvera, Josephs, and Giesler 2002. Veryzer and Hutchinson 1998), the interaction of brand strength and design (Page and Herr 2002), the effects of repeated exposure to designs (Cox and Cox 2002), and the role of individual differences in response to design features (Bloch, Brunei and Arnold 2003. Holbrook and Schindler 1994). Bloch (1995) developed a model of consumer response to product form that outlined several stages in the design process from managerial goals through the creation of the products form to the consumer’s response. Blochs model addressed the possibility of both cognitive and affective responses to product form but did not speak specifically to how variations in product design might influence the nature of the cognitive or affective reactions. In a discussion of the different roles of product design, Creusen and Schoormans (2005) similarly mentioned the psychological role that product appearance might play but did not offer predictions as to the nature and direction of the influence.The current research contributes to the growing literature on product design by investigating how a product’s appearance can influence the processing of functional product information. I examine the extent to which design signals quality, and how such a signal might interfere with the evaluation of more objective product information. Prior consumer research in product design has examined how aesthetics could influence quality evaluations in the absence of other information (Page and Herr 2002).

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