Read the article "The Effect of Visual Product Aesthetics on Consumers' Price Sensitivity" (2015) by Yigit Mumcu and Hailil Semih Kimzan to learn why, in a very technological world where all optics are possible, functionality will definitely make a strong statement as far as product design. However, when it comes to marketing and sales, functionality needs to come hand-in-hand with aesthetics and looks.
Here is what the article states, which we could agree with whether we read it or not: When a good design is created with functionality in mind, the product will undoubtedly sell, no matter what it looks like, because the product is primarily created to solve a problem, ease lives, or help people. With this in mind, the product will undoubtedly sell ... at first.
However, in a growing market where product aesthetics and optics marketing help people develop their own personal style, there is no doubt that form will follow function—and surpass it—for the sake of sales.
This other article explains as much: modern technology offers way too many opportunities to make products vibrant, dynamic, and beautiful. Who would pass on the opportunity to purchase an object that can be both functional and optically pleasing?
Think about the following products, and notice how their form, not entirely their function, has undergone a number of cosmetic and aesthetic changes that make them more appealing to the public while performing the same task.
USB sticks used to be plain and rectangular. Now, they are shaped like superheroes, cartoons, cameras, and some even have added (and not necessarily necessary) nightlights.
- Yoga pants used to look like yoga pants. Now, they are designed to be worn with suits and professional attire.
Running shoes are becoming more appealing to be worn with professional attire—similar to yoga pants—while continuing to do the same job: they are still running shoes.
Toilet seats now come with night lights, cushioning, temperature control, music, and contemporary designs—all added options to augment form, while the functionality remains the same.
- The iPhone and Samsung rival phones- these contraptions are shaped differently from time to time to meet the needs of those customers who like jumbo-sized screens and those who prefer regular-sized screens. Same product, slight changes, but different in design.
Tupperware vs Rubbermaid products continuously battle it out in the aesthetics field while continuing to do the same thing: storing food. However, modern marketing will end up selling the product that is more compact, light, and cute to take to work for lunch.
We could apply this same argument to other everyday items, including:
- makeup brushes are now available in interesting aesthetic choices, from epoxy to vegan.
- wine glasses
- reading glasses
- drinking tumblers
All of these items, as different as they may be, have one thing in common: they have performed almost the exact same job they were meant to perform when they were first created. Moreover, they are also highly functional and necessary to some buyers' markets. Personally, I've owned at least 10 of these items, and I continue to replace them from time to time.
Why would I replace them? It is not because they stopped doing their job. I replace them, as a customer, to meet the modern looks and aesthetics that make this functional product LOOK like it's brand new and not outdated. Aside from the looks of it, they continue to do their job, fair and square.
As far as performance goes, these items continue to do the same thing, generation through generation. They have proven beyond a doubt to be functional. They solve problems, ease people's lives, and happen to be quite helpful.
All these said, let's take the position that once a product proves its worth in the functional world, the one thing that will make it marketable will be product aesthetics and "form." Product aesthetics constitute the key aspect of effective marketing. Form will make the difference between a product that sells and one that does not.