Existing research on product design has found that a design’s complexity is an important antecedent of consumers’ aesthetic and behavioural responses. This paper aims to shed new light on the relationship between design complexity and perceptions of design quality by taking the effects of consumers’ naïve theories into account.
The hypotheses of this paper are tested in a series of three experiments.
The findings from three studies show that the extent to which consumers prefer more complex product designs to simpler ones depends on the extent to which they believe that the complexity of a design is indicative of the effort or of the talent of the designers involved in the design process. These competing naïve theories, in turn, are triggered by contextual information that consumers have at their disposal, such as the professional background of a designer or the brand that is associated with a particular design.
This research was limited to a design's complexity as the central design element and to the effects of two naïve theories. Future research may also take other design factors and consumer heuristics into account.
This research reveals that the extent to which managers may successfully introduce both complex and simple designs may depend on the reputation of a company’s designers and the prestige of a brand.
This research examines design complexity from a novel theoretical perspective and shows that the effect of design complexity on perceptions of design quality is contingent on two specific naïve theories of consumers.
Grein, M., Wiecek, A. and Wentzel, D. (2021), "It’s a question of talent! The interplay of design complexity and talent information on consumers’ product design responses", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 5, pp. 1338-1358. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-02-2018-0092
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