The purpose of this special issue is the reconsideration of what constitutes beautiful design based on a discussion of aesthetics and consumer psychology. Previous research has indicated that aesthetics is one of the important design elements because it promotes customer’s choice behavior and leads to higher customer satisfaction. In this special issue, we intend to focus not only on those simple effects but also on psychological or theoretical mechanisms (e.g., how and when does aesthetics affect consumers positively?). Four research articles featured in this issue provide excellent theoretical contributions and have broad practical implications. We hope that this issue will advance research on aesthetics and consumer psychology.
Some manufacturers anthropomorphize their products to strengthen the personal relationship between the products and their customers. For anthropomorphized products, the “face” is the most important part in terms of consumer evaluation of their “personality.” Previous research has found that consumers prefer automobiles with headlights that resemble slanted (vs. arched) eyes and a front grille that looks like an upturned (vs. downturned) mouth. In contrast, this research considers 4 (slanted, arched, squared, and round eyes) × 3 (upturned, downturned, and horizontal mouths) product designs, as well as congruities between the product image and the self-images. The results showed that each of the twelve patterns of anthropomorphized product design is related to a particular combination of personalities, which is preferred by consumers whose ideal image has close congruity to the product image. This implies that there is no single “face” preferred by all consumers. Therefore, manufacturers of anthropomorphized products should use a customization system.
The purpose of this article is to present a review of the literature on aesthetics to shed light on how aesthetic perception can be related to consumer decision-making and purchase behavior. As the great success of design-oriented companies such as Apple and Dyson has proven, excellent design has become an imperative factor for companies in building competitive advantage and satisfying consumer needs and wants. Previous studies on new product development, industrial design, and sensory marketing have repeatedly emphasized the importance of aesthetics in creating design excellence. In this article, we review the psychological and marketing literature on aesthetics. Specifically, we examine the aesthetic perception of individual design elements (color and shape) and spatial design elements (horizontal and vertical location). As a result, we argue that aesthetic perception can broadly influence consumers’ evaluation and purchase decision-making, not only through individual design elements, but also through spatial design elements. Based on the review, we also speculate on the directions of future aesthetic research: (1) exploring the underlying psychological mechanism of aesthetic perception, (2) examining the moderating role of cultural and individual factors, (3) investigating interaction effects of different design elements on consumers’ aesthetic perception, and (4) researching unexamined sensory dimensions of aesthetic perception, such as touch, smell, and sound.
Drawing on embodied cognition theory, we examined the effects of a product’s visual heaviness on consumers’ perception of scarcity. In two experiments, the visual heaviness of two products was manipulated in terms of packaging colors (Study 1) and vertical location of the packaging imagery (Study 2). Study 1 demonstrated that dark (vs. light) colored packaging enhanced the visual heaviness of the product, which in turn enhanced the product’s perceived scarcity. Study 2 aimed to identify the boundary condition of this effect, so we focused on the moderating role of the space-to-product ratio (defined as the space dedicated to the presentation of each item on a store shelf). This study showed that placement of a product imagery at the bottom (vs. top) of the package façade enhanced the product’s visual heaviness, which in turn enhanced consumers’ perception of scarcity; however, the enhanced scarcity perception only occurred when more space was devoted to the product’s display (i.e., only in the condition of a high space-to-product ratio). The theoretical and managerial implications of these studies are discussed.
One of the objectives of the concept test is to gather ideas to improve the product. However, prior research has not examined whether there is any difference in the collection of ideas depending on what is used in the concept test. The authors demonstrate that you can get more ideas for improvement by utilizing a design that you can touch in the early stages of development. The authors examine the concept test of toilet paper to 97 people with 4 kinds of presentations (sentence, graphic design, touchable prototype design, and video). As historical research on haptic perception shows, a touchable prototype design improves the collection of ideas through the activation of semantic concepts. The authors’ findings suggest that the use of a touchable prototype design in the early stages of development is effective in obtaining the idea of improvement and this result can explain why utilization of a prototype is effective in design thinking.
Research on alternative orientations in the same dimension as a market orientation has been conducted individually, but few studies have taken a comprehensive approach to alternative orientations. Therefore, there is no overall view of alternative orientations, and the impact that they have on various marketing variables has not been determined. A comprehensive review of previous studies on alternative orientations was performed, with a focus on organization of 10 orientations and clarification of the research stages of each orientation.
Product design is an important theme (Luchs & Swan, 2011) and the source of an important competitive advantage in business (Noble & Kumar, 2010). TOTO Ltd. is a company headquartered in Kitakyushu City, Kokura that places an emphasis on design and development of beautiful products by fusing design and function. This company has gained a strong reputation in the market. A high-end product “NEOREST NX” was developed and introduced into the market in 2017, and it is no exaggeration to say that “NEOREST NX” is an object of art. Therefore, we investigated the marketing excellence at TOTO Ltd. in the design of harmony between space and manufacturing. The two main features of marketing of TOTO Ltd. were found to be “design-driven innovation” and “fusion of holistic perspectives of design and function”.