During hard economic times, you would expect consumers to look for bargains and be less concerned with amenities, but also companies to respond with low prices and plain products and services.
So why many companies, in food, tourism, home, telecom e.t.c. markets follow another tactic?
For example, why are food companies decorating their shops, adding stone and exposed brick, warmer colors, and comfortable couches? Because the customers don’t want just fuel; they want pleasure — good food in an aesthetically appealing environment. That’s why, the companies invest in the look and feel of its stores by trying to elevate the experience to that of the product’s quality, because it’s not just about the product; it’s about how you feel there. So the food stores try to enhance the quality of everything the customers see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. All the sensory signals have to appeal to the same high standards.
In the same manner, the shopping malls try to emulate the sumptuousness of upscale hotel lobbies. Aesthetics is not just for places. Computers, for example, all used to look pretty much the same. Now they, too, can be special. The drive for aesthetic value is creating opportunity throughout the supply chain. In a way, aesthetics has become an accepted unique selling point. For instance, a person may seek for ‘more masculine’ design for his new mobile phone and that can be solved by changing its color gunmetal gray.
Look and feel doesn’t trump function, of course. Some consumers may prefer mobile phones with a masculine look, whereas others want something cute. But everyone expects the phones to work. Aesthetics is critical today not because other factors don’t matter, but because competition has pushed quality so high and prices so low that aesthetics is often the only way to stand out.
Competition and a slow economy may drive down prices, but it also raises expectations — not just for service, function, and reliability, but for sensory experience. “Look and feel” increasingly drives economic value. Businesses today face an aesthetic imperative. Aesthetics can no longer be an afterthought. It has become a critical source of product identity and economic value. The desire for interesting, enjoyable, and meaningful sensory experiences is everywhere.
For businesses, aesthetics is not a matter of esoteric art theory. It’s the way we communicate through the senses, the art of creating reactions without words. Aesthetics is the way we make the world around us special. Successful businesses understand that aesthetics is more pervasive than it used to be — not restricted to a social, economic, or artistic elite.
Aesthetics creates new challenges for companies. The more they incorporate aesthetics into their products and services, the higher customers’ expectations become. Like every other measure of quality, aesthetics offers a significant advantage.