Academic journal article International Journal of Design

How Designers and Marketers Can Work Together to Support Consumers' Happiness

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

How Designers and Marketers Can Work Together to Support Consumers' Happiness

Article excerpt

Introduction

A business's raison d'être is to generate profit for its owners. Therefore, concepts such as sales, marginal value, customer retention, and lifetime value are of utmost importance to marketers when they set goals for their investments. In order to increase sales and profit, marketers are interested in creating and investing in business concepts that have a competitive advantage over those of their competitors. According to the basic philosophy of marketing, consumers buy products and services that they think will bring them value, that is, solve a problem for them or help them to achieve some goal that they find important (Grönroos, 2008). Therefore, marketers can be said to offer a value proposition to consumers, that is, explicit or implicit promises to deliver specific benefits. Following this logic, marketers should strive toward creating good value propositions that consumers desire, because that will in turn increase sales and hence profit.

However, marketing scholars have long noted that successful value propositions and marketing strategies are often not implemented by marketing departments alone. In order for the value proposition to be authentic, the product or service needs to fulfill the value proposition's promise. In this context, interdepartmental collaboration becomes of utmost importance. Designers can be argued to play a key role in the success of marketing strategies when creating business concepts: designers plan and execute the function and aesthetics of the product (and sometimes also services). To this end, fostering collaboration between marketers and designers would not only create more compelling value propositions, but also ones that will be perceived as authentic in the marketplace. However, to create such value propositions, marketers and designers would need to be aligned in their goals, and have a shared understanding of the value proposition. Indeed, we argue that in order to reach business goals in terms of sales and profits, it is important for marketers and designers to share a common goal and understanding of the value proposition.

Over the years, marketers have emphasized different types of value propositions. During the 1980s, marketers stressed the importance of quality and functionality of products, which was followed by a period in the 1990s and early 2000s when emotions and hedonism were stressed as important purchase motives. Lately, the focus has turned to the deeper psychological reasons for how and why consumers behave in the marketplace. Among the new compelling reasons is long-term happiness, and empirical research shows that consumers often buy things because they want to become happier (Mogilner, Aaker, & Kamvar, 2012; Parks, Della Porta, Pierce, Zilca, & Lyubomirsky, 2012). Happiness is here referred to as a general estimation of how good and worthwhile one's life is (Kesebir & Diener, 2008; Lyubomirsky, 2008; Lyubomirsky, Tkach, & DiMatteo, 2006).

The concept of happiness, or subjective wellbeing, has been the subject of research within a field called "positive psychology" (cf. review by Kesebir & Diener, 2008). Positive psychology refers to a branch of psychological research studying what people consider good things in life, that is, what makes people happy. More recently, this interest in happiness has spilled over to the marketing literature, where a research stream called "positive marketing" has evolved. Positive marketers recognize consumers' quest to become happier and direct their research toward understanding the role of happiness in marketing contexts. Thus, marketers have noted that by using happiness as a marketing strategy, businesses can create value propositions for consumers that can reach a company's goals, for example, increase the attractiveness of the business concept; increase sales; or create stronger brands, which makes consumers less price-sensitive and thereby generates greater profit. However, managers have found it difficult to implement strategies for positive marketing. …

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