TitleObjects of desire: the role of product design in revising contested cultural meanings
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWilner, S, Huff, A
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Volume33
Issue3-4
Pagination244-271
Date Published2017
KeywordsMarketing
Abstract

We explore the link between product design and market legitimation by examining the evolution of a product market that has been shrouded by cultural taboo. Conducting media analysis and selected visual audits of sex toys over a recent 25-year period, we find that innovations in the design of these products – materials, form and function – can facilitate evolution of a mainstream market. Producers can facilitate legitimation by introducing innovative designs that significantly contradict existing cultural meanings associated with the category. Furthermore, when the aesthetic and functional aspects of a new product design are aligned with cultural norms, we find that mainstream media reframe the products in ways that signal social acceptance.

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