This paper investigates ways to obtain consumer preferences for technology products to help designers identify the key attributes that contribute to a product's market success. A case study of residential photovoltaic panels is performed in the context of the California, USA, market within the 2007–2011 time span. First, interviews are conducted with solar panel installers to gain a better understanding of the solar industry. Second, a revealed preference method is implemented using actual market data and technical specifications to extract preferences. The approach is explored with three machine learning methods: Artificial neural networks (ANN), Random Forest decision trees, and Gradient Boosted regression. Finally, a stated preference self-explicated survey is conducted, and the results using the two methods compared. Three common critical attributes are identified from a pool of 34 technical attributes: power warranty, panel efficiency, and time on market. From the survey, additional nontechnical attributes are identified: panel manufacturer's reputation, name recognition, and aesthetics. The work shows that a combination of revealed and stated preference methods may be valuable for identifying both technical and nontechnical attributes to guide design priorities.
Approaches for Identifying Consumer Preferences for the Design of Technology Products: A Case Study of Residential Solar Panels
Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received August 19, 2012; final manuscript received April 6, 2013; published online May 9, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Jonathan Cagan.
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Chen, H. Q., Honda, T., and Yang, M. C. (May 9, 2013). "Approaches for Identifying Consumer Preferences for the Design of Technology Products: A Case Study of Residential Solar Panels." ASME. J. Mech. Des. June 2013; 135(6): 061007. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4024232
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