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Finding What Makes a Product Cool

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 07:44AM

A problem faced by some or all tech companies is how to make their products cool, to improve sales. After all, the cooler the product, the more it is talked about and name recognition is important. Researchers at Penn State University have recently completed a series of studies into what makes something cool, and found there is more to it than previously thought.

Many people would say that a product is cool if it looks good, is original, and if it is edgy, but according to this research there is more to it than that. The product also has to appeal to the appropriate subculture (such as overclockers). Typically a subculture is the first group to adopt a product and it does not reach mainstream adoption if the subculture does not like it. Assuming that happens, if the product becomes uncool to the subculture, it can lose ground in the mainstream. Fortunately such products can become cool again, by regaining popularity within a subculture. To keep a product cool though, the company behind it has to be continually innovating.

Altogether, the researchers found that four elements contribute to coolness: subculture appeal; attractiveness; usefulness; and originality. Interestingly though, usefulness is not as important as initially thought, as participants rated some products both as cool and as low utility. Hopefully companies will not decide to produce products of low utility, hoping to capitalize on the other elements to succeed.

Source: Penn State University

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masterbinky on February 13, 2014 08:08AM
I like the word choice of usefullness, which means a high utility item could still be useless to me if it is tied up in a walled ecosystem. I think the objects a person already has contributes to the importance of each element. While a high utility item could be useful, it is less useful if something else provides that utility. If I already have lots of attractive stuff of low usefulness, then I am more likely to value usefuless in the next product.

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