From aesthetic experience to product design and innovation: a case study of the use of earphones in Hong Kong

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Aesthetic experience, Earphones, Sensory, Consumer narrative


The user-based approach has gained popularity in the field of design and innovation in recent years. Adopting an aesthetic perspective to understand the link between consumers' perceptions of product design and their bodily experiences as manifested in the discourse of their everyday life, we empirically investigate what consumers infer from a product's design reveals about their personal notion of "aesthetics" in everyday life.

The consumption of professional earphones was selected as a case study not only beacuse of the potential size of the earphones market, but also because the narratives of consumers on their multi-sensory perceptions relating to bodily experiences and aesthetic judgment can provide crucial insights on the design and innovation process wih regard to technological devices. Our theoretical framework makes reference to recent work on consumption aesthetics and sensory marketing in both design and consumer research. We followed a phenomenological direction in our study and interviewed a group of young music enthusiasts aged between 17 and 28 who consume professional earphones.

With reference to our analysis and interpretation of the data, three aesthetic themes are identified to describe how consumers infer both personal and social meanings while listening to music with their professional earphones. Consumers actively engage in the construction of the meaningfulness and aestheticization of everyday life with their personal notion of "aesthetics" with regard to product design, preferences, and usage. Thus, we suggest that product designers and innovators should also pay attention to these subjective narratives of consumers' perceptions of design attributes, and the social and personal meanings that consumers infer in their everyday life.

Source Publication

The 10th Conference of the European Academy of Design, 2013 Apr 17-19, Gothenburg, Sweden

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