Design Preferences in Eco-Friendly Innovation A Quantitative Research on Early Majority and Early Adopters' Aesthetic Liking of Typical and Atypical Design

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Product design is an important topic for firms and researchers alike. How a product is designed communicates extrinsic and intrinsic qualities to the consumer. Therefore, design plays a key role, alongside a wide variety of marketing activities, in conducting differentiation strategies and in developing or strengthening brand image. The hypotheses proposed by this research project are based on two studies, respectively Landwehr et al. (2013) and Celhay & Trinquecoste (2015), and the experiment pivots on the comparison between two prototypical and two atypically designed vehicles, generated through the removal of the front grille, belonging to two different car segments. The data collection was made possible thanks to the use of a survey shared exclusively with members of the Italian population who have purchased at least two or more vehicles in their lifetime. Following data gathering, the result of the performed analysis confirms the hypotheses harmonizing and complementing the literature and the preexisting knowledge of Rogers’ early adopters and early majority, extending it to electric vehicles’ exterior design. Thus, in the initial phases of the adoption curve of electric vehicles, both early adopters and early majority prefer designs that closely resemble the prototype of the category instead of designs remarkably atypical and innovative. However, consumers who are expert in a category and with a high propensity to innovate appears to accept atypical design more than consumers with a lower degree of innovativeness. Several theoretical and managerial implications are drawn from these results.
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