Delight by Design: The Role of Hedonic Versus Utilitarian Benefits

Review summary at American Marketing Association

What is the relationship between product design benefits (hedonic versus utilitarian) and the post consumption feelings of customer delight and satisfaction? The primary insights this research provides are as follows: (1) Products that meet or exceed customers’ utilitarian needs and fulfil prevention goals enhance customer satisfaction (e.g., a car with antilock brakes and vehicle stability assist), and (2) products that meet or exceed customers’ hedonic wants and fulfil promotion goals enhance customer delight (e.g., a car with panoramic sunroof and six-speaker audio system). Furthermore, the research finds that the primary antecedent feelings of satisfaction are the prevention emotions of confidence and security provided by utilitarian benefits, whereas the primary antecedent feelings of delight are the promotion emotions of cheerfulness and excitement provided by hedonic benefits. Finally, the results show that delighting customers improves customer loyalty, as measured by word of mouth and repurchase intentions, more than merely satisfying them. The authors discuss the theoretical contribution and strategic insights the research provides for product designers and marketers.

Lovemarks framing
This study establishes a valuable distinction between “customer satisfaction” and “customer delight”. The distinction works in parallel with the claim made by Lovemarks; that brands are built on satisfaction (respect) and Lovemarks are built on delight (love). Past studies have shown that providing consumer’s greater satisfaction does not always equate to greater loyalty. However, “delighting” customers has an impact on an emotional level, resulting in significantly higher levels of word-of-mouth and repurchase intentions.