How Consumers Perceive Product Appearance: The Identification of Three Product Appearance Attributes
Janneke Blijlevens, Marielle E.H. Creusen, Jan P.L. Schoormans


The appearance attributes of designed products noted in the literature often reflect what designers themselves perceive in a product design. This present research, however, provides knowledge on how consumers perceive product appearance by identifying appearance attributes that consumers use to distinguish the appearances of durable products. Descriptions of appearance were generated by consumers in a free categorization task. The descriptions were classified as the attributes Modernity, Simplicity and Playfulness. These attributes were confirmed in a separate rating-task performed by a second group of consumers. The attributes proved stable across different groups of consumers indicating that they are universal. Additionally, the attributes were validated across different product categories and are thus generalizable and not product category specific. The appearance attributes identified in this research provide knowledge of what consumers see in durable product appearance. Knowledge of what appearance attributes are perceived by consumers in a product design can help a designer to communicate certain pre-specified meanings in a product.

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