The Consumer as Arbiter of What Constitutes Good Design

Dr. Lawrence L. Garber, Jr.,
Dr. Eva M Hyatt,
Dr. Unal O Boya
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This paper considers the role that the consumer plays in determining what constitutes good design in a commercial frame. Much research on good design would appear to favor the sensibilities of the designer, as the societally designated arbiter of such things, to determine what is good design on behalf of all of us. However, in a commercial frame, is it the designer who exclusively determines such things? We argue that the consumer also plays an important role in arbitrating what a society may conclude is good design, as well as what is fashionable and tasteful. Consumers vote with their purchase decisions. Those products and packages that are purchased are the ones that perpetuate themselves, and thereby implicitly establish design conventions due to their success. Designers of course are guided by those designs that seem to work from a market context, and in the process, so too may their senibilities also be altered, in a big feedback loop. We consider and discuss in this paper the nature and implications of this designer-consumer design determining process, and its role in the establishment of social conventions for determining good design; that in turn affect the direction of future choices in visual fads and fashion.

Keywords: Product, Package, Consumer Behavior
Stream: Design Research
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: User-Oriented Design as a Social Process

Dr. Lawrence L. Garber, Jr.

Associate Professor, Business Administration, Elon University
Elon, North Carolina, USA

I study the effects of appearance on the consumer. Prior research examines the effects of various visual package elements, including color and shape, on the consumer at the point of purchase. I have a background in both the visual arts and marketing science. With respect to the former, along with an undergraduate degree in art, I studied painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and illlustration at the Parsons School of Design. I worked as a freelance illustrator for several years in New York City. My work appeared in Fortune and Barron's magazines, and on the covers of books for Viking Penguin and Holt Rinehart Winston, among others. With respect to the latter, I was a senior analyist in marketin sciences for BBDO Advertising in NYC, working on international accounts, and for Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, now GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Eva M Hyatt

Professor of Marketing, Marketing Dept, Appalachian  State University

Dr. Unal O Boya

Professor of Marketing and Chairperson, Marketing, Appalachian State University

Professor Boya holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, International Marketing Review, and other journals.

Ref: G07P0059