Curvature From All Angles: An Integrative Review and Implications for Product Design
Academic researchers and marketers alike understand the importance of product design as an opportunity for differential advantage in the marketplace (Bloch, 1995; Creusen & Schoormans, 2005; Hertenstein, Platt, & Veryzer, 2005; Landwehr, Labroo, & Hermann, 2011), but does the angularity or curvature (henceforth used interchangeably) of the product play a role in inﬂ uencing product perceptions? Also, given that a vast majority of products in the marketplace are rectangular (Raghubir & Greenleaf, 2006), a question that naturally arises is whether consumers have inherent preferences for either products with angular shapes or contours, or curved contours. There is a signiﬁ cant body of work spanning different domains, such as empirical aesthetics, social psychology, marketing, and neurobiology, that has looked at how angular and rounded contours are processed by human beings, in a wide variety of contexts. In this chapter, we attempt to integrate the ﬁ ndings from all these different streams and provide comprehensive implications for product design in terms of shape, from the perspective of angularity or curvature. Additionally, using primary research conducted in India, we propose that angular or rounded contours could be used strategically depending on the intended functionality and hedonic perceptions of the product. Extant literature suggests that contours of products communicate information to consumers that may stem from hardwired or primitive human goals. We therefore recommend that marketers thoroughly evaluate the objectives and personalities of their brands or products, as consumers may well draw inferences about a product from its contours that may not be aligned with the brand objectives.