DESIGN OF PRODUCTS WITH HIGH-EMOTIONAL VALUE
When people purchase and use products there have two aspects of the products they seek out. One is the obvious one, that the product must perform or function at a level that meets the user’s task needs. The other aspect of the product critical to its long-term success is that the product must satisfy the user’s emotional needs and wants. Most companies are quite good at delivering functional performance. But many ignore the important emotional aspect of their products. Those companies rely on external associations, such as advertisements, to create emotions that don’t otherwise exist. Our argument is that the product itself should engender the emotions that people feel when using the product. And when a product itself engenders emotions, that’s when the customer is captivated by it. This is true for physical products, but services, software and systems as well.
Our initial research in this area was published in the book Built to Love – Creating Products that Captivate Customers. Using a combination of industry-based research and laboratory experiments, we demonstrate that customers will richly pay for products that authentically provide emotional fulfillment. Our research uncovers the science behind successful products that create an avid and loyal following. Our studies include research that tracks an index of companies that consumers deem to be high emotion companies; the high emotion index outperforms standard indices, even when the economy is down. Other studies manipulate features of products and demonstrate that if emotional desire for those features increases so doesn’t willingness to pay for the product increase.
Built to Love also presents a method for creating high-emotion products. Introducing a tool called the eMap, the customer’s desired emotions are mapped onto a qualitative tool that breaks emotion into its constituent components. Emotion attributes are next articulated then delivered via touchpoints in the product.
This research connects to other ongoing research in iDIG that uncovers the relationship between function and form in customer decision-making, and the derivation of utility functions that capture customer preference to both the rational and emotional aspects of choice.