Product design and its influence on consumers’ behavior
Wiecek, Annika; Wentzel, Daniel (Thesis advisor); Salge, Torsten-Oliver (Thesis advisor)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis
Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, 2018
In the tough struggle for consumers’ grace, product design has long been praised as the last means to stay competitive. Its value in creating attention and interest (e.g., Bloch 1995; Creusen and Schoormans 2005), in differentiating one’s products from the competition (e.g., Karjalainen and Snelders 2010; Kotler and Rath 1984; Talke et al. 2009) and in ultimately generating sales (e.g., Gemser and Leenders 2001; Jindal et al. 2016; Landwehr, Labroo, and Herrmann 2011; Landwehr, Wentzel, and Herrmann 2013; Liu et al. 2017) has repeatedly been highlighted. However, despite the substantial interest in the subject there has been virtually no research on the post-purchase effects of products’ design. That is, there is a lack of knowledge about the effects of products’ appearance on consumers’ product usage behavior. This dissertation addresses this gap in the literature and investigates the effects of product design on consumers’ product use. The influence of the three most important roles (Homburg, Schwemmle, and Kuehnl 2015) of products’ design, i.e., delivering aesthetic value, communicating functional value, and expressing symbolic value, is analyzed. Article I investigates the effect of design aesthetics on the intensity of product use and also examines the potential downstream consequences of this effect, i.e., skill development and cognitive lock-in. Article II develops a new construct (i.e., ‘design-based consumption norms’) that postulates a relationship between holistic design impressions and the two traditional classes of consumption behavior, i.e., utilitarian and hedonic consumption. Article III examines the effect of aesthetic congruity (i.e., visual coherence among the designs of a set of products) on perceptions of products’ effectiveness and the resulting extent of product use. The findings of this dissertation are relevant to both theory and practice and are discussed at a collective level as well as within the individual research articles.