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November 18, 2015
Want Creativity? Abandon Abundance
 
It has been clear in the United States that marketers and advertisers across the country have been searching for more ways to be creative, whether it is making more appealing advertising, creating different product packaging, or even creating and designing new product offerings and services.

In a land based on consumption and competition, how can we get more and better ideas? How can we get more creative?

In the Journal of Consumer Research, Ravi Mehta, from the University of Illinois College of Business, published his research about the effects that scarcity or abundance have on creativity. The findings were interesting.

Turns out, the more scarce resources "seem" to be, the more creative the parties researched tended to be. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the more abundance the subjects seemed to have, the less creative they were.

We see this in the real world. Mehta and his co-author from John Hopkins pointed out that in third-world countries, we see a lot of creativity happening there due to the lack of resources. They think outside traditional lines in order to get more use out of the products and resources they can access.

In the United States, where the abundance here is borderline decadent, it is no wonder that the creativity for product use is not at the level we want it to be.

What do Ravi and his co-author suggest? Create a sense of scarcity when communicating with designers, consumers and panels when trying to think of solutions.

Not an easy task. There are so many substitutes for different products and services, marketers will really have to think about how to create a scarce situation in order to muster up creativity. Marketers can try to make the situation seem scarce and see what the results can be. Limiting the supply or announcing a discontinuance in some cases could help provoke creativity.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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