Towards a better understanding of the influence of visual references on consumer aesthetic perception

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Asuzu, Chukwuma M; Olechowski, Alison
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Toronto
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3571-3580
DOI number:


When viewing a product for the first time, a consumer’s aesthetic perception is based on their knowledge of other products, artefacts, and concepts. These mental images function as visual references for consumers and affect the processing fluency of the new product. Designers frequently use visual references as inspiration during the research stage of the design process. It has been documented, however, that there is a gap between designer intent and consumer response; Consumers do not always realize the intent of designers nor draw on the same visual references when perceiving a product, which can reduce their processing fluency of new products.

Visual references differ from one consumer to the other which make them difficult to study. In this paper, we argue for a new way of studying visual references: by analyzing the cognitive process that occurs when consumers view a new product and recognize aspects of that product that are similar to visual references in their memory. We present a framework of three approaches for recognizing this similarity and implications for design practice.

Keywords: New product development, Design cognition, Emotional design, Aesthetics, Consumer response

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