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It’s a question of talent! The interplay of design complexity and talent information on consumers’ product design responses

Marcel Grein (Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Europe, Aachen, Germany)
Annika Wiecek (School of Business and Economics, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany)
Daniel Wentzel (School of Business and Economics, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 4 December 2020

Issue publication date: 11 May 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

The hypotheses of this paper are tested in a series of three experiments.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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