Design and Evaluation of Product Aesthetics: A Human-Machine Hybrid Approach
37 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 1, 2019
Aesthetics are critically important to market acceptance in many product categories. In the automotive industry in particular, an improved aesthetic design can boost sales by 30% or more. Firms invest heavily in designing and testing new product aesthetics. A single automotive “theme clinic” costs between $100,000 and $1,000,000, and hundreds are conducted annually. We use machine learning to augment human judgment when designing and testing new product aesthetics. The model combines a probabilistic variational autoencoder (VAE) and adversarial components from generative adversarial networks (GAN), along with modeling assumptions that address managerial requirements for firm adoption. We train our model with data from an automotive partner — 7,000 images evaluated by targeted consumers and 180,000 high-quality unrated images. Our model predicts well the appeal of new aesthetic designs — 38% improvement relative to a baseline and substantial improvement over both conventional machine learning models and pretrained deep learning models. New automotive designs are generated in a controllable manner for the design team to consider, which we also empirically verify are appealing to consumers. These results, combining human and machine inputs for practical managerial usage, suggest that machine learning offers significant opportunity to augment aesthetic design.
Keywords: Aesthetics, Generative Adversarial Networks, Generating New Products, Machine Learning, Prelaunch Forecasting, Product Development, Variational Autoencoders.
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