The concept of aesthetics
When we talk about aesthetics, we often identify this term with visual feedback, in reality it represents the pleasure that comes from the perception we have of an object and an experience through the senses.
Briefly, if we buy a soft cashmere sweater, the feeling under our fingers when touching the texture is fully part of the aesthetic. Or if we enter a shop with a particular perfume or essence, we are experiencing the use of this technique as a means to convince us to purchase.
As far as the business, aesthetics is not a theoretical artistic term, but the way through which a brand can communicate directly to the consumers and, specifically, without using words.
It is a universal language that goes beyond traditional cultural communication barriers.
By this term, we also mean visual characteristics of certain products or categories of objects, such as smartphones or refrigerators.
This means that in some specific industries, we are used to expecting a series of visual and sensory parameters. This has led to a standardization of the proposals of brands that are held back from abandoning certain standards for fear of being rejected by consumers.
Being wrong or being right in these cases is not determined mainly by the aesthetic choice, even in terms of corporate identity, but by the ability to maintain consistency and high-quality standards over time.
Creating pleasant billboards is certainly a plus within the communication strategy of a brand, but if the consumer lands on the institutional website with a poor user experience, the result will be confusing and disappointing.
The consumer is increasingly accustomed to beauty and expects a brand or a product to have qualitative continuity.
All the latest branding theories state that individuals identify with a brand because it assumes the qualities and values normally embodied by a person.
Now, if the brand is a person, imagine seeing it once beautiful, once innovative, once poor and once ugly.
Would you rely on someone ever changing?
How aesthetics can help to sell ugly things
Provided that aesthetics is a universal language to interact emotionally with your customers, the first doubt that could arise is how it can be so crucial when it comes to the category of products that is universally more difficult to place on the market: commodities and industrial products for the B2B market.
Here the magnificent and immense General Electric comes into play and, to be precise, its Plastics Division.
Let’s do a little introduction on GE: it is the largest multi-business company in the world. At the beginning of the 2000s, there was the passing of the baton from Jack Welch to Jeffrey Immelt and the company strategy saw a shift from an economic-financial approach to an organizational strategic one. Why am I telling you this? Because Immelt, who had previously been the company’s marketing manager, understood that differentiation and personalization were the future for even the largest company in the world.
Back to us, the GE Plastics Division used to present innovative new polymers to their customers with a description of their physico-chemical properties. After Immelt introduced a new decision-making approach that consisted of meetings between the various strategic areas of the company, the marketing managers suggested to R&D to propose to customers not only tables of data, but to create prototypes of some needs that they had communicated with customers during business meetings with the sales department.
Therefore, during the presentation of a new polymer to the Japanese company Kyocera, the representatives of GE Plastics introduced themselves with a prototype of the new business phone inspired by the idea that they wanted it more masculine than their competitors. They made the plastic workmanship similar to that of the metal of guns, a gleaming leaden gray.
From this profitable experience, they decided to address to product designers who would design everyday items to produce using all the new materials coming from the R&D department.
GE’s annual reports are financial evidence of how the introduction of aesthetics in a highly technical sector led to a clear and net revenue growth.
The four benefits of considering a great corporate aesthetic
A – Decrease price sensitivity
A study recently published on Science Direct highlighted the relationship between product aesthetics and consumer price sensitivity.
What emerged was that there is a strong negative correlation between the price of a product and its aesthetics. We are talking about a value equal to -0.857 with p <0.05.
In other words, when faced with a product perceived as pleasing, the consumer is less likely to consider the price as the main variable of choice.
The majority of the test sample stated that, when a product consumers want to buy has a powerful image or a particularly beautiful graphic, they tend to buy it without thinking too much about the price.
It is easy to understand how it becomes discriminating in the launch of a new product or service to create a series of aesthetic experiences that involve the consumer and make him/her more likely to purchase.
B – Increase the shareability of the product
When a customer chooses our product for the first time, every entrepreneur has two expectations: the first that it is the beginning of a relationship of trust and the second is that he/she is happy enough to talk about us to his/her friends and acquaintances. The good old word of mouth.
A useful resource at a strategic level would be to identify some factors that encourage your customer to recommend our product and perhaps share it on his/her own social profiles.
In this regard, a market analysis conducted by DOTcom Distribution on the impact of aesthetics within online commerce channels highlighted the following. If the packaging is strongly branded and characterized by a recognizable aesthetic, 40% of consumers are encouraged to share purchased products.
C – Increase the probability of being chosen
Let’s imagine that we are in the shop or e-shop that sells our product and imagine ourselves observing how a potential customer behaves.
Let’s also assume that he/she intends to buy a specific product of a specific product category such as a three-blade male razor or a cookbook for lactose intolerant.
How can we encourage him/her to choose our brand instead of a competitor? Drum roll… The answer is still aesthetics.
In fact, 70% of consumers decide on a product rather than another only when reaching the shelf and, once again, the impact of the aesthetic experience that a brand gives them makes the difference.
Are we all aesthetes?
Given that aesthetics is important, if not crucial, in the strategic decisions of a company, the question that could arise spontaneously is: is everyone able to understand and appreciate it?
If we want to take something from philosophy, we can say that according to Kant, aesthetics was innate and transcendental and it was the ability to perceive and categorize beauty.
Coming back to the present, a current of thought defined as “the other AI” is developing fast. That is, along with the importance of studying artificial intelligence, the importance of deepening and supporting the other AI is being credited: aesthetic intelligence (aestethic intelligence, ed).
With this definition, we mean the human ability to understand, articulate and react to sensations that have arisen from particular objects or experiences.
It is the conscious evolution of personal taste, therefore the ability to understand why and how much we are attracted to a specific situation.
Let’s think about understanding how to empathize with a consumer and tickle his aesthetic intelligence. It would not only mean being chosen but also connecting with him/her and creating a lasting relationship that is rooted in the company’s DNA and values.
So, we can say that every consumer is a potential esthete and every company has the opportunity to familiarize with him/her.
Coming back to reality and putting aside statistics and market research for a moment, what does it mean for a company to invest in aesthetics?
First, it is a desire to change perspective and not to trivialize choices that may concern visual aspects such as colors or fonts of the corporate image or the study of the user experience in a physical or online store.
It means that the intrinsic value of a beautiful logo, a nice letterhead or wonderful packaging goes beyond personal taste and the elements just mentioned are no longer considered details, but real strategic assets.
Basically, it means that the turnover increases if you invest in beauty.