Design as a Source of Competitive Advantage: Design as a Value Creation Process and its Role in Influencing Consumers' Purchasing Decisions

Lucia Lamberti

Student thesis: Master thesis


This study aims at analysing the role of design in consumers’ lives and within successful organizations. Design is considered in its broadest meaning, both as an aesthetic phenomenon and as a source of competitive advantage. The focus of this study and its ultimate goal is to explore how design, meant as a value creation process, influences consumers’ purchasing decisions and market trends. Relevant findings have been collected through the implementation of an empirical deductive approach applied to a qualitative research method. A critical discussion of the data collected is implemented through an in-depth analysis of interviewees’ responses, with the ultimate goal to establish the nature of the relationship between design and the average consumer. Significant research contributions are developed through the application of existing theories and frameworks to the given topic. The study finds similarities and differences in the way consumers react to a product’s design, revealing how culture is a key determiner in consumers’ purchasing decisions. The importance of design as a source of competitive advantage which impacts consumers’ behaviours is confirmed by the success of products developed through strategic processes in which design has a predominant role. Consumers are found to be often not aware of how design heavily influences their everyday life and purchasing choices. An indissoluble bond is proven to exist between a product’s aesthetic appearance and its intangible features; consumers are found to build emotional links with objects they interact with, giving birth to personal meanings they associate with the product itself and its surroundings. The tasks of design in anticipating consumers’ needs and in performing its role as a problem solver through the attribute of functionality are also underlined by the research.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages93
SupervisorsTore Kristensen