Sep 12, 2020
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)
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
This podcast is produced by Resonate Recordings. Click here
find out more.