A quick Google of every new major iPhone launch evidences this best. Critics berate Apple for prioritizing form over function, that the new device is dead in the water, that this apparent lack of prudent judgement is linked to their inherent arrogance and snobbery. And yet, those devices historically have been arguably the most commercially successful products of all time.
So what gives?
Is it possible that form is actually more important than function? Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Our decisions are emotion-driven
Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has been studying how the brain reacts when making decisions for decades. One of his most fascinating discoveries was when he studied patients with brain damage related to the area responsible for generating emotions. These patients were completely unable to make even the simplest decisions such as what to eat for dinner.
They would try and rationally decide what the benefits were of eating turkey over chicken for dinner — and in the process deliberate for the entire evening.
If it were me, I’d probably remember that the last time I had turkey was an expired deli sandwich from a gas station. Severely affected (emotionally and physically) by that single experience, I’d choose chicken — even though that incident has no bearing on the chicken I’m deciding between tonight.
The conclusion? Almost all of the decisions that we believe to be logical are actually completely influenced by simple, good-old-fashioned gut emotion. By this logic, I’d argue that we can therefore actually make a proven argument that our decision-making is primarily emotion-driven, not logic-driven.
Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman has more to add. Through his research, he found that 95% of decision-making is subconscious. In fact, though you’d assume that people normally consider different brands before buying, that’s simply not true.
The funny thing is, we even love to pretend that we all make sound, logical, thought-out decisions. Because answering “why did you pick Tesla?” with “it looks pretty” is outrageous right? Of course everyone buys Tesla on a logical decision that stems from the calculated cost savings of fuel over a period of X years.
For example, many consumers report handling competing brands and comparing prices at the point of purchase. However, observations of these same consumers often reveal that they don’t even look at alternatives to the chosen brand.
— Gerard Zaltman
If we dig into my cousin’s comment a bit, she accidentally blurted out that she bought a Tesla because she thought “it looked pretty”, before adding in the perfectly logical reason of fuel cost savings. So which one was it really? The function needs to be there for sure, but if it was simply fuel cost savings there are certainly other options.
I believe the real answer was that she saw it, test drove her friend’s, felt cool driving it, and decided right there and then. She then used the fuel cost savings as the logic to convince herself that she was making a sound choice.