At the CMC, we think that consumer
creativity accounts for a lot of the (perceived) value that
consumers experience in the act of consumption. We believe that
much of the act of consumption occurs through creative processes.
But one of the questions that many find challenging is: 'what
exactly is consumer creativity'? Is consumer creativity simply
about the many ways in which individuals consume goods? Oreo
cookies, for instance, can certainly be consumed in many different
and creative ways. Or is consumer creativity something even
broader, that includes the integration of the many associations we
have with the brand (e.g. childhood memories of eating Oreo
cookies…), or multiple encounters with brands (through advertising,
product placement, etc) with our own life experience. I would argue
here in favour of a broad understanding of consumer creativity, as
a process of integrating our current experience of consumption with
a set of associated and related memories, perceptions and emotions
involving brand-related and product-related experiences. In other
words, consumers re-interpret the value proposition while consuming
the goods they purchase, and integrate it with the brand eco-system
and their previous experience.
A related question is: when does
consumer creativity actually happen? Two opposite views can be
confronted. On the one hand, some scholars argue that consumer
creativity is a process that mainly occurs during the act of
consumption - which implies being present and in contact with the
product / service. On the other hand, some scholars argue that
consumer creativity is a continuous process, which can precede and
follow the act of consumption itself, thanks to consumers'
imagination. Given the previous broad understanding of consumer
creativity previously discussed, I would also argue here in favour
of a creativity continuum.
Understanding how your product or
service and its associated perceived value can be re-created and
re-interpreting by consumers is not an easy task. The reason being
that most of the time, this will not be apparent - perhaps not even
to consumers themselves. Marketing and consumer research can help
in that respect, for instance by using novel research methods (e.g.
netnography, portable video-camera…), as discussed in my last blog
post. Companies who succeed in this difficult task will be able to
improve the perceived value of their product and service offering,
by making sure that the value proposition is correctly understood,
and also leaves room to consumer interpretation and integration
with their own universe.