Encouraging and rewarding consumer creativity: How to motivate consumers involved in creative contests?

Brands increasingly rely on creativity contests to integrate consumers into their new product developments processes. The main purpose is to stimulate creativity of internal marketing teams or quickly trigger original ideas for their brands. Not surprisingly, much of recent research is focused on the determinants of success and creativity in those innovation contests.

A study by Salgado & Barnier (2016) seeks to determine the effects of rewards, brand feedback and its interactions on creativity in innovation contests. The research focuses on the first stage of the new product development process, since this is argued to be the most critical stage in the entire innovation process (Hauser et al., 2006). To test their hypotheses, an experiment is carried out with respondents participating in a mock innovation contest. Within the general model, the reward and brand feedback variables are manipulated such that causal relations can be proven (Evrard et al., 2010).

The authors find that brand feedback acts as a moderator on rewards and creativity, and association of brand feedback with reputation rewards strongly stimulates creative designs. The paper highlights that extrinsic rewards (monetary and non-monetary) do not reduce, but instead improve creativity when they are accompanied with brand feedback. Besides, the effect of the choice of rewards is not neutral, but entails different impacts on creativity and therefore should be considered wisely.

The main strength of this paper is its relevance from both a managerial and theoretical standpoint. On the managerial level, the research provides practitioners with insights into the incentives that encourage participation and creativity in producing desired results. Therefore, the nature of rewards offered by brands (monetary and non-monetary) should be taken into consideration when designing an optimal consumer integration process in new product development. Especially for large ‘unblind’ co-creation platforms, where designs are not visible and feedback is rare, restructuring their model may be considered to generate additional creativity. From a theoretical standpoint, this study bridges the longstanding research gap with respect to reward effects on creativity in the context of an innovation competition. Currently, there exists a paradox between academic literature, which emphasize the wide range of participants’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in creative contests and managerial practices, which mainly focus on monetary rewards. This research solves this paradox by addressing both factors.

As a downside, the authors did not take into consideration the potential interactions between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which could have influenced the impact on the expected creativity level. The paper finds that extrinsic motivations are ‘at the service’ of intrinsic motivations, since extrinsic motivations have no negative effect on creativity when associated with feedback, but intrinsic motivations play a determining role in the accomplishment of creative designs. However, the level of intrinsic motivation is dependent on individual traits and therefore dynamic effects can exist between intrinsic motivation and the effect of rewards. Future research should focus on investigating the interactions between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. As a last note, I would suggest to include the impact of culture on creative designs. A study by Chua et al. (2014), proposed that creativity heavily depends on ‘cultural narrowness’ and therefore the impact of country origin could have an influence on participation and creativity in an innovation contest. What effect do you think country origin has on this relationship? And what role would brand feedback play in this relationship?

Chua RYJ, Roth Y and Lemoine J-F (2014) The impact of culture on creativity: How cultural tightness and cultural distance affect global innovation crowd- sourcing work. Administrative Science Quarterly 20(10): 1–39

Evrard, Y., Pras, B. and Roux E (2010). ) Market: Études et recherches en marketing, 4e édition. Dunod. Dunod.

Hauser, J.R. Tellis, G.J. and Griffin, A. (2006) Research on innovation: A review and agenda for marketing science. Marketing Science, 25(6), 687–717.

Salgado, S. and Barnier, V. (2016). Encouraging and rewarding consumer creativity in new product development processes: How to motivate consumers involved in creative contests? Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 31(3), 88-110.

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