Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

The aesthetic fidelity effect

Wentzel, Daniel
Wiecek, Annika
ISSN-Print: 0167-8116
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2019
Keywords: Aesthetics, Product design, Product usage, Consumption intensity, Skill acquisition, Cognitive lock-in

Product aesthetics is a powerful means for achieving competitive advantage. Yet most studies to date have focused on the role of aesthetics in shaping pre-purchase preferences and have failed to consider how product aesthetics affects post-purchase processes and consumers' usage behavior. This research focuses on the relationship between aesthetics and usage behavior in the context of durable products. Studies 1A to 1C provide evidence of a positive effect of product aesthetics on usage intensity using market data from the car and the fashion industries. Study 2 corroborates these findings and shows that the more intensive use of highly aesthetic products may lead to the acquisition of product-specific usage skills that form the basis for a cognitive lock-in. Hence, consumers are less likely to switch away from products with appealing designs, an effect that is labeled as the ‘aesthetic fidelity’ effect. Study 3 addresses an alternative explanation for the ‘aesthetic fidelity effect’ based on mood and motivation but finds that the ‘aesthetic fidelity’ effect is indeed determined by usage intensity. Finally, Study 4 identifies a boundary condition of the positive effect of product aesthetics on product usage, showing that it is limited to durable products. In sum, this research demonstrates that the effects of product aesthetics extend beyond the pre-consumption stage and have an enduring impact on people's consumption experiences.