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Exploring the Appeal of Product Design: A Grounded, Value-based Model of Key Design Elements and Relationships

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Intellectual Contribution by Minu Kumar

Contribution Title

Exploring the Appeal of Product Design: A Grounded, Value-based Model of Key Design Elements and Relationships


Journal of Product Innovation Management


Charles Noble




Product design is a critical, yet often poorly understood area for most marketers. In recent times it has been recognized as an important source of sustained competitive advantage. In the past, the domain of design has been loosely categorized as "form and function" issues. However, as this article will explore, product design deals with a much richer range of issues, many of which have not been considered in the marketing literature. In order to explore the domain and elements of design, the authors start with the two major goals: (1) to elicit the key design dimensions and to develop an enriched language for the understanding and study of design; and (2) to integrate the design dimensions within a broader model which ties initial design goals to eventual psychological and behavioral responses from consumers. To achieve these ends, the authors use grounded theory development by conducting extensive literature review, in-depth interviews and interactive object elicitation technique. The authors reviewed an eclectic group of literature such as art, engineering, marketing, product development among others and supplement this with rich qualitative interviews with stakeholders such as consumers, designers, executives and academics. Drawing from this rich source of qualitative information the authors propose a framework for the creation of design value in consumer products. This framework not only explores the domain of design but also highlights the important elements of design that goes well beyond the clich_d form and function issues. The authors explore specific market place and organizational constraints that may help or impede the conversion of designer goals to what they term design levers. The authors also identify design levers that designers can used to convey three types of values to consumers; rational value, kinesthetic value and emotional value. The framework then explains how and when these different values may be perceived by the consumer. Over and above this framework the article also offers testable research propositions and specific directions for future design-based research. Despite product design's natural connections to many facets of marketing and new product development these fields seem to be developing on parallel yet disparate paths, both in practice and in research. Within the modern, product-driven firm, product design is an increasingly critical force in developing unique and compelling product offerings. It is essential that designers, marketers and other stakeholders in the NPD process share some common design perspectives in order to present product benefits that will resonate with the consumer. Beyond its potential to spur marketing and NPD management thought, the framework offered here represents a significant contribution to the field of design, which has historically been represented as a highly fragmented body of knowledge. Formalizing this framework should help overcome perhaps the largest obstacle to date to marketing-related and NPD-related research in this area _ the lack of a detailed and consistent nomological view of the scope of design dimensions which includes testable linkages. Design has become an important tool that can be used by managers to develop dominant brands with lasting advantages. This article lends the NPD manager and the marketing manager better insights in into how this increasingly popular tool can be used to influence consumer behavior and other marketing variables.

Complete Citation

Noble Charles H. and Minu Kumar (2010) "Exploring the Appeal of Product Design: A Grounded, Value-based Model of Key Design Elements and Relationships," Journal of Product Innovation Management. 27 (5), 640_657.


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