When Good Looks Kill: an Examination of Consumer Response to Visually Attractive Product Design

In a time when companies are able to match each other on dimensions of quality and price, superior design is seen as a key to winning customers. But while design has been an area of growing concern, it remains unclear whether superior design should be a goal sought after by all. The present paper examines the effect of visually attractive design upon consumers’ perceptions of quality and argues that in the absence of external cues (such as brand or country-of-origin information) companies might be adversely impacted in pursuit of highly attractive visual design. I develop and empirically test a model of visual information processing based on the implicit personality theory (Bruner and Tagiuri 1954; Cronbach 1958) and a parallel implicit product theory (Pinson 1986). It is shown that a under normal circumstances, an inverted U-shaped relationship exists between visual attractiveness and perceived performance but that this relationship is moderated by both brand information and access to processing capabilities. By understanding the boundary conditions and mechanisms involved in this process of performance-related trait inference, we can begin to outline implications for when and how to use a product’s visual design as a competitive tool.


Rishtee Batra (2009) ,"When Good Looks Kill: an Examination of Consumer Response to Visually Attractive Product Design", in AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8, eds. Sridhar Samu, Rajiv Vaidyanathan, and Dipankar Chakravarti, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 252-253.


Rishtee Batra, Boston University, USA


AP - Asia-Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 8 | 2009

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