Friday, January 14, 2011

How graphic design affects the buying decision

I've been thinking a lot about this recently and yesterday's meeting and vibrant discussion with a colleague only fuelled this debate further for me. It's easy to see how the buying decision can be swayed by graphic design on a superficial level: only yesterday in the supermarket one of my children stopped in front of the washing detergent aisle and mentioned that one particular brand looked great, "This one's the best!". I asked why to which I was told that it was prettier with nicer illustrations on it. So it works on a basic level: shape of packaging, design of on package graphics. Maybe this can be further pushed to is the packaging innovative and will it enhance my experience of using the product. Mostly, though, I find similar products perform a similar function. Supermarket own brand might not smell as nice as other brands, or may not clean 'as deeply' but essentially it cleans clothes. I'm not saying that product characteristics don't count for anything in the buying process, rather that the initial on shelf experience of the average shopper is dictated by graphic design. (I'm discounting for the moment brand experience built by other channels before this buy-decision).

This is where I'm putting effort into thinking at the moment. Our eyes see the packaging and our brains decode the information and produce a buy/don't buy decision. Why? What occupies this space between design and decision? Gladwell (Blink, Gladwell, M. 2005 ) talks about a consulting firm which helped make a brand of spirits number one seller based on tweaking the packaging shape alone. He also states that not only the shape and colour of the packaging made customers prefer one product over the other but very subtle variances in the design of the label. And the thing is, the product didn't change! It was just the same as before when it was in second place in the sales chart but now the customer perceives it to be better.

So I'm setting off on a deep journey into the world of Design Theory and its affect on the buying decision. Where will it lead me? Through typography, sociology, psychology no doubt, even maybe early human history. Feel free to join the journey with me...

Next stop: Think!: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye (Simon and Schuster, 2006)

1 comment:

Rob said...

cool blog, Chris, I remember that conversation well. Reading some Gladwell at the moment. How do we execute on these thoughts?