Cute designs can be frequently found in products, brands and advertisements. Scholars have paid close attention to cuteness, and yet the existing literature scatters throughout sociology, biology, psychology and marketing. Due to the absence of integrated theoretical framework, some of the findings remain contradictory. This paper therefore seeks to provide a complete overview of the literature on the topic of cuteness perception. It discusses the methods, consequences, mechanisms and moderators in provoking cuteness. This paper starts with a discussion of the definition and manipulation of cuteness. Cuteness refers to a set of favorable and adorable characters originally found among children and females. In marketing, companies create cuteness perceptions through manipulating the offerings’ color, size, personality, etc. Based on prior literature, this paper categorizes two ways to create cuteness, namely impression cues and interactive cues. Impression cues include using visual designs such as round shape and bright color, or texts that generate baby associations. On the other hand, interactive cues include demonstrating warm or whimsical personalities. Cuteness comes with mixed consequences. Cuteness strengthens the products/brands in many ways. It not only helps to create intimate customer relationship, but also increases customer patience, carefulness and self-efficacy. But in the meanwhile, cuteness lowers customer trust and perceived competence of the products, and increases the possibility of excessive usage, which in the long run, damages the brand/product image. Literature on the mechanism and moderators of cuteness exists in different fields including sociology and biology. Researches in respective fields prove that caring mental set, escapism, identity extension and physiological responses can all be used to explain the effect of cuteness. The consequence of perceived cuteness depends on the customers’ demographic characteristics. For example, comparing to the male, the female are more sensitive towards cute stimuli. Also, the context of the event plays an important role in deciding the effectiveness of cuteness. For instance, during brand crisis, or in competitive industries, cuteness does more harm than good. Based on the existing literature, it is safe to identify cuteness as a multidimensional concept. Its value in marketing is far from being fully understood. The authors of this paper propose several possible research questions related to cuteness: for starters, there still lacks a scientific measurement for cuteness. The researchers can therefore fill in such a gap by identifying different types of cuteness, and their presentation. The existing literature has proved the association between fluffiness, softness, warmth and cuteness, and yet cuteness can also be demonstrated through body gestures, facial expressions and so on. Moreover, definitions of cuteness vary across culture, and it is interesting to observe and examine such variety from a cultural perspective. In addition, in the future, researchers should examine its moderators based on contextual or customer-based variables, for example, will cute products/brands fit more creativity industries or certain brand personalities? These questions are of utmost importance for product/brand designers who are interested in cute elements. The new technology provides companies with brand new insights into brand/product design. Cuteness in the modern market, as a result, can be demonstrated and generated in ways so innovative that we cannot yet foresee. It carries countless possibilities and rich potential for further researches and discussions. This paper hopes to serve as a foundation for future theoretical development.
A Literature Review of Cuteness in Marketing
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 05, pp. 56 - 68 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.05.005
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Cite this article
Xie Zhipeng, Wang Tao, Zhao Jing. A Literature Review of Cuteness in Marketing[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(5): 56-68.
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