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An Investigation on the Inconsistency of Consumer Preferences for Product Appearance: A Case Study of Residential Solar Panels

[+] Author Affiliations
Qifang Bao, Maria C. Yang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Sami El Ferik, Mian Mobeen Shaukat

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Paper No. DETC2014-34799, pp. V007T07A047; 12 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 2nd Biennial International Conference on Dynamics for Design; 26th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4640-7
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


The importance of the appearance of consumer products is widely understood. This paper considers an evaluation of the appearance of a technology-oriented product, the residential solar panel, from the perspective of individuals. This study uses a quantitative approach, visual conjoint analysis, to determine preferences for product appearance of solar panels, and further explores how presenting a solar panel in its context of use can influence the consistency of consumer preferences. Approximately 200 survey respondents were shown two kinds of images of solar panels, one of a standalone panel and the other of a panel installed on a roof. Results show a significant shift of preferences when first showing the non-contextualized image and then showing the contextualized image. Such preference inconsistency provides insights with which to inform the process of user-needs revealing.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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