The use of visual mental imagery in new product design

Darren W. Dahl, Amitava Chattopadhyay, Gerald Gorn

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

147 Citations (Scopus)


In this research, the authors seek to advance the understanding of how marketing can facilitate the new product design process. They focus on how designers' use of a specific cognitive process, visual mental imagery, can influence the customer appeal of a design. The authors present a conceptual framework for examining how visual imagery might influence the customer appeal of a design output. This is followed by two experiments that test the hypotheses that flow from the proposed model. The experiments manipulate the type of visual imagery used and the incorporation of the customer in the imagery invoked and then examine its effects on the usefulness, originality, and customer appeal of the resulting design. Consistent with the framework and the proposed hypotheses, the findings show that including the customer in imagination visual imagery during the design process has a greater effect on the usefulness of the design produced than including the customer in memory visual imagery. The results also show that imagery based on imagination results in more original designs than imagery based on memory. Most important, the use of bounded imagination, which results from the incorporation of the visual images of the customer in imagination imagery, leads to the creation of designs that are more appealing to the customer. The findings are integrated into a discussion that clarifies the role of visual imagery in design and underscores the potential of this cognitive tool in the new product design process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-28
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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