Product Attachment as Sustainability?

Design & Architecture
Jeff Squires
  • 10 october 2007

According to the logic that if people feel strongly attached to a product, they are more likely to take better care of it and less likely to quickly replace it, it can be assumed that extending the psychological life span of a product could be the most sustainable decision a designer makes. During her doctoral research, Ruth Mugge investigated how designers can increase the degree to which people bond with a product, and suggests several design strategies to strengthen the emotional bond between a person and his/her product.

To measure a person’s attachment to a product, four factors have been distinguished based on previous research that can indicate when a particular product conveys a special meaning above and beyond it’s utilitarian function; self-expression (can I distinguish myself from others with the product?), group affiliation (does ownership of the product connect me to a group?), memories (related to the product) and pleasure (provided by the product). Narrowing in on how a designer can maximize a consumer’s attachment to a product, self – expression was identified to have the most opportunities. In particular, her research explored product personality and product personalization as areas that have the most potential.

Product personality is defined as “the profile of personality characteristics that people use to describe a specific product variant and discriminate it from others.” By making decisions regarding the product’s shape, material, color, sound, texture, and interaction, designers can create a product with a certain personality that consumers can recognize.

(Example given: a Volkswagen Beetle’s happy and friendly personality.)

Product personalization is the degree to which the consumer can exercise control over the product. Implementing product personalization thus requires that consumers operate as co-designers of their own personalized product.

(Example given: Nike ID’s customization that enables consumers to design their own pair of personalized shoes by allowing consumers to specify the colors for the various shoe parts.)

uiGarden: Why do people become attached to their products?

+consumer goods
+fashion / apparel
+fitness / sport
+Market Research

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