Insights, Dispensed

The psychology behind product design

The psychology of product design

Studies show that as much as 90+ percent of a buying decision is based on emotions.

This is why brands agonize over various design elements for their products. It’s important that a product relays the brand’s image and values, while also piquing consumers’ interests – particularly when placed among its competitors on a store shelf.

Here’s a look at some of the different design elements and considerations we incorporate when developing a product for our customers.

The look and feel of a product

Some of the basic design elements that influence buyer emotions are color, shape and texture. Each plays a vital role:

  • Color: This might be the most recognized of the three, as most consumers are aware that certain colors elicit different emotions or reactions (e.g., red, excitement or urgency; white, clean and pure; green, health and sustainability).
  • Shape: Shape is another design aspect that strongly influences how a consumer may perceive the product from a visual perspective. A luxury brand may choose a narrower or slender shape to give a sense of sophistication, while a women’s body wash may utilize a curved design to give a greater sense of femininity.
  • Texture: Although color and shape arguably are more important at catching a consumer’s eye, texture is just as significant once they get their hands on it. For example, a textured actuator often is used to help the consumer feel more confident when using the product to prevent finger slippage.

What problems – and emotions – is the product designed to address?

As much as color, shape and texture are used to elicit certain emotions, they are far from the only emotional considerations to be taken into account during the design phase. The product also must clearly and immediately address the emotions associated with the problem the product is meant to solve.

Take cosmetics, for example. Many women have experienced the frustration of a cream or spray leak in a purse or travel bag, wasting the product and damaging other items. If a fragrance sprayer is designed in a way that clearly demonstrates it will not leak or spill, it successfully acknowledges and alleviates that past negative emotion. In many cases, this can have a significantly deeper impact on the purchase decision than some of the more superficial design elements. 

Design for both form and function

This also ties into how intuitive a product should appear based on its design. Routinely, we find that many consumers are enticed into trying a new product based on how simple its use appears to be – especially if this traditionally has not been common within the product category. Liquid laundry detergent is a great example of this. Confusion with how much to dispense, spillage and pouring all have been frequent points frustration among consumers. Making the dispensing process more intuitive is a tremendous point of emphasis among CPG companies.

That said, product design cannot be limited to prompting a first-time purchase. Whatever promises made through the product and package design must be delivered when a consumer uses it at home. For example, a lawn-care product can be designed to make it appear simple to use, but if it is difficult to aim or has a poor evacuation rate, the only emotions consumers will have will be negative.

What do your consumers care about?

Ultimately, companies need to understand their consumers. Yes, products should reflect the brand and their values, but done so in a way that puts the consumer first and addresses their needs. At Silgan Dispensing, we do this through an intensive insights discovery process to get to the core of the end consumers’ needs and pain points. Taking the time to research consumer needs and test different available options always yields invaluable insight to help improve the consumer’s experience with a product.

Without question, a product’s design can and should elicit specific emotions in your consumers, but it’s important to dig deeper than its initial look and feel. Virtually any product on the market is designed to solve a problem or make life easier. The more brands can incorporate their understanding of these issues into the product design, the greater they can differentiate themselves in the store and solidify repeat customers.

Want to learn more about our product design process? Take a look at how we approach creative briefs in this blog post. LEARN MORE >