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Details, Details

by Diane Crispell , 12.06.2012

Whether you ascribe to Flaubert’s assertion that “the good God is in the detail” or prefer the alternative version that it’s the devil, it’s hard to deny that details do matter.

The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was legendary for sending designers back to the drawing board dozens of times to get details just right. “Can you imagine looking at that every day?” he’d shout. “It’s not just a little thing. It’s something we have to do right.”

Product design is the place where details might seem to matter most. Yet Roper Reports® US studies show that design in and of itself tends to be only a mid-tier factor among consumers’ purchase priorities. It’s relatively more important for products commonly associated with the notion of design – namely, cars and electronics – and less critical for things like food andbeverages. American consumers also claim that packaging has a minor rather than major impact on many packaged-goods purchases. Yet design of both products and packaging can subtly affect consumers’ overall perception of a brand’s quality and reliability, which are very important factors in purchase decisions.

The importance of detail goes far beyond product design, too. It’s important for experiences, too. Seven in ten consumers in 25 countries covered in the Roper Reports Worldwide study agree that “the look, feel and smell of a product is very important to me.” Nearly as many, 68%, agree that “experiences are more important than possessions.” Together, these two indicators comprise Roper’s Experience trend, which highly impacts 41% of global consumers, making it the most pervasive of Roper’s 12 Key Trends.

On a recent vacation to Orlando, Florida, I was struck anew by the phenomenal attention to detail at Walt Disney World. It’s most obvious in the physical design, but it’s also evident in everything from the nearly flawless customer service at shops and restaurants to the highly planned and well executed traffic flow.

I was favorably impressed with my first visit to Universal Studios, too, with themes carried through more thoroughly than I’d expected. Most people might not take notice, but I appreciated that even the trash cans in the Three Broomsticks restaurant were in line with the pub-like feel. And it’s not too often that I recommend a public restroom, but if you ever get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, make sure you check it out (boys and girls alike).

Retail establishments could do worse than to strive for the same level of immersive experience as a theme park. Likewise, websites, video games and other virtual experiences can strive for the same level of perfection that Steve Jobs insisted on in Apple’s products. Even when consumers don’t consciously notice every little detail, at some level it registers.