This “aesthetic fidelity effect” improves efficiency of use but seems only to apply to durable products.
Great design and aesthetics are critical to many brands’ success in attracting consumers and competing for purchases. The impact of aesthetics on consumer choice and preference has therefore attracted a lot of research, but much less is known about how design effects consumers once they have bought a product.
This paper combines six studies investigating post-purchase implications of aesthetics for durable products (those that can be reused, as opposed to consumable items). These span several categories including cars, fashion items and personal electronics, and include market data and lab based studies. The findings for cars and fashion show that more attractive products get used more intensively. Exploring this further in an experimental setting the authors suggest that this heavier usage can lead to consumers developing “product-specific usage skills” associated with an item, and that these in turn reduce their likelihood of switching and so increase loyalty.
They explain that this increased usage and subsequent “cognitive lock-in” can only be shown to apply to durable products, but still has broad implications for marketers. Taking advantage of this effect could be especially beneficial for products that are complicated or technical to use, as it could encourage consumers to acquire the skills needed to use them successfully.
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