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  • Important Objects Feel Heavier?

    Discussion in 'Industrial design' started by GarethW, Jul 8, 2011.

    1. GarethW

      GarethW Chief Clicker Staff Member

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      http://web.hbr.org/email/archive/dailys ... ate=070811

      Interesting. I've often considered the weight of products and how it influences perception.

      For example, I once worked at a place which made some rather expensive lab instruments which for its size were as light as a feather! I almost felt they should have deliberately make them heavier to make them feel more expensive!

      Anyone experienced this kind of issue? What did you do about it? Anyone know of any design "rule", guidelines or study results? Is there an ideal "weight-to-perceived quality" ratio perhaps?
       
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    3. Allfat

      Allfat Member

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      Personally, I think this is more common with women than men.

      I know my wife will pick something up at the store to see how high quality it is, which totally flabbergasts me. As someone who is pretty up on technology and mechanical design, I tend to think that the lighter something is, the better designed it is. This is not all the time, but a lot of the time, the case for me personally.

      One time I was in an electronics store checking out a newly released item. Holding the item in my hands I thought, this feels nice and light, easy to hold, GREAT! The woman next to me simply said, "This feels cheap," and walked away.

      So, moral of the story is that some people will prefer to have heft to a design, and some wont.
       
    4. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      A full answer to this is really impossible but when isolation to specific scenarios it can prove to be important. For example- Designing domestic water supply valves. A design created using minimum allowable wall thicknesses to cast parts results in efficient light weight components but when produced and assembled they are perceived as being poor quality by Plumbers even though in operation and after considerable long term testing they are proven to perform well. To achieve low cost but still receive acceptance in the market place is very difficult. You can't have it both ways.
      For this particular industry heavier is certainly perceived as better quality.
      Balance is hard to achieve.
      Another associated issue is if a product is perceived as too cheap it will be ignored.
      A new design of commercial rota pop up sprinkler was initially marketed 30% lower than its main competition at the same time weighing more. Sales were very poor and the product removed from market. Six months later it was re-introduced to market at a price equal to the competition and sales went through the roof. Same product with no changes but with higher price was accepted. Go figure!!!

      Source
       
    5. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      I believe that this perception still exists in the consumer product arena, but is going away with rapid increases in technology and a younger consumer base. As material science improves, people are adjusting. Examples would include things like tennis racquets, plastic eye glasses, and just about anything being made in carbon fiber.

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    6. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Perceived quality - it's all about the price - cheap is cheap.

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    7. LinkedIn Gopher

      LinkedIn Gopher Little furry chap

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      Before I migrated to a different full time career in Canada's Oil Sands, I did extensive Design/Drafting for the heavy equipment industry. For custom material handling equipment, we always over designed the structural members. It seemed when we gave the customers lighter weight concepts to review they were often perceived as "flimsy" or "unsubstantial". When I questioned a senior design engineer about it, he also told me that the equipment may have to run for twenty or thirty years and "steel doesn't cost that much versus the engineering time required to size every member". So remember that folks, when you see something that appears to be over-kill. In our highly competitve emerging global economy, prices have to be cut in certain areas to remain competitve. If you market a standard product consistently, you will learn to egineer it to death to get production costs down.

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    8. GarethW

      GarethW Chief Clicker Staff Member

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      I once read Duncan Bannatyne's book (that bloke off Dragons' Den). I recall there was an interesting section in it - something about a jewellery store that couldn't shift some stock. The owner told an employee to slash the prices to get rid of it, but the employee made a mistake and increased the prices ridiculously. Apparently the goods flew off the shelves as people believed that the value was higher. I believe this technique (when done deliberately) is referred to as "aspirational pricing".
       
    9. Jambeg

      Jambeg New Member

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      Interesting topic... I'm also with it depends on the product and the market. I like, for example, my mobile phone to be small but heavy. For some reason it makes it feel more robust. If I was buying some climbing gear I'd want it to be light as possible cause I know the more I pay the lighter it is. As a rule of thumb id say look at what's on the market though, people will make their decisions based on past experience.
       
    10. Variant1

      Variant1 Member

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      Nauseatingly depressing concept, this is. A good part of the reason our cars are so morbidly obese these days. :-/
       
    11. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      An interesting example: When I was a kid, all telephones in the US were "Bell System" phones, made by Western Electric (no doubt it was something similar elsewhere in the world). They were heavy, solid, based on decades-old technology, and lasted forever. With the electronics revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, and the breakup of the Bell System monopoly, around 1980 lots of small, light, cheap (and unreliable/throwaway) telephones became available. There just wasn't the perceived quality (and rightly so).

      About 15 years ago, I bought a new phone for my office. Sleek, modern, attractive, and the receiver had some "heft" to it. It was comfortable to use. Some years later it stopped working, and curious, I took it apart. Surprise, surprise... the receiver was the same light plastic with the same cheap components... and a small block of lead inside to make it comfortably heavy. Mediocre engineering, but very good industrial design.
       

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