I have the box my iPhone came in. So do many of you, I would guess. Many people keep their iPhone boxes. We keep them for various reasons, and most of them boil down to because we like how they look. It turns out, customers care a lot about how things look, and it influences their buying (and box-keeping) behavior.
This episode of The Intuitive Customer explores the research of Claudia Townsend, associate professor of marketing at the University of Miami at the Miami Herbert Business School. She discovered that how things look and how you display items affects how people think about them and, often, whether they will buy them.
There are a few things to remember about esthetics, per Professor Townsend.
- A deliberate focus on esthetics was once reserved for luxury items but not anymore. In the beginning, luxury brands were the most interested in creating outstanding esthetic design. It was for products that had met every other function and needed a differentiation from the competition. Today, however, the focus on elevated esthetics is universal.
- Esthetic preferences affect even hyper-rational buying decisions. We are aware that looks drive purchases like cars and clothes, but they also influence which companies stock we buy. In one of Professor Townsend’s early papers, she analyzed stockholders’ buying behavior after receiving an annual report. The research team learned that how many colors and images the firm used in the annual report affected investor behavior—and this behavior was the same even among experienced investors.
- The appreciation of esthetics is universal. We all have preferences, even if we don’t know fashion or trends.
- Our appreciation is innate an unconscious. We don’t do it consciously. We like what we like.
- The space between items in a display also affects our buying decisions. In another paper, Professor Townsend did with Julio Sevilla, their research suggested that the amount of space in a display affects the value we assign to objects. When items have a lot of space between them, we think they are more expensive than when they are close together. Professor Townsend says this innate judgment is hard to change.
- There are two things organizations should learn from this:
There are a few ways you can use this concept to manage your Customer Experience:
- Recognize that esthetics matter. Customers make buying decisions based on how things look, so your esthetic is a significant part of your Customer Experience.
- Design a deliberate appeal to your offerings. Consider all the details of your visual effects to appeal to a customer’s preferences. Any investment you make here will be worth the money.
- Don’t ignore this effect just because you offer an intangible. Esthetics still matter even when you present a service and maybe even matter more when there is no actual product to use for comparison. Customers will equate things like a clean, organized office with things like professionalism and skill. If a website is hard to use, they might think it isn’t up-to-date with its technology.
- If you don’t know what is vital to the esthetics of your design, find out. Researching to find out what matters to people can help you in your design efforts. Our Emotional Signature® research can help you discover your customers’ underlying wants and needs to point you in the right direction with your visual appeal.
To discuss this further contact us at www.BeyondPhilosophy.com
About Beyond Philosophy:
Beyond Philosophy help organizations unlock growth by discovering customers’ hidden, unmet needs that drive value ($). We then capitalize on this by improving your customer experience to meet these needs thereby retaining and acquiring new customers across the market.