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Product design matters, but is it enough? Consumers’ responses to product design and environment congruence

Ehsan Naderi (Department of Product Design, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA)
Iman Naderi (Department of Marketing, Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA)
Bimal Balakrishnan (Department of Architectural Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 11 February 2020

Issue publication date: 20 October 2020

1825

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the combined effects of product design and environment congruence on consumers’ aesthetic, affective and behavioral responses.

Design/methodology/approach

Two lab experiments with a 2 (high-level design cues vs low-level design cues) × 2 (congruent environment vs non-congruent environment) between-subjects design were conducted to test the hypotheses. The experimental stimuli (product: digital camera; environment: product display in a retail environment) were presented in a 3D simulation environment using a large TV (Experiment 1) and a stereoscopic virtual reality headset.

Findings

The results support the notion that product design cues elicit more positive aesthetic and affective responses. Environment congruence, on the other hand, plays a moderating role; product design cues elicit more favorable consumer responses in a congruent environment. In contrast, no such effect was found in a non-congruent environment.

Practical implications

Creating a congruent environment is only effective for well-designed products. In contrast, for products with low-level design elements, the congruence of promotional environment is not instrumental and may not elicit more favorable responses. Hence, such products can simply be presented in a generic display, especially considering the significant costs associated with designing, building and setting up a congruent display.

Originality/value

Despite the empirical findings supporting the significant role of product design and environment congruence on consumers’ perceptual and behavioral responses, there is a paucity of research on the combined effect of these two factors. The present investigation is an attempt to fill this gap and challenges the generalizations made in previous research suggesting that a product’s environment must be aligned with the design elements embedded in the product.

Keywords

Citation

Naderi, E., Naderi, I. and Balakrishnan, B. (2020), "Product design matters, but is it enough? Consumers’ responses to product design and environment congruence", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 939-954. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-08-2018-1975

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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