A creative consumer describes any “individual or group who adapt, modify, or transform a proprietary offering”. Traditional consumers simply use and consume products and services. Creative consumers not only use and consume them, they also change them in some way. Consider for example the hacker George Hotz, who unlocked the original iPhone and hacked Sony’s PlayStation 3, he gave these hacks away free, or Jose Avila, who made FedEx furniture for his apartment exclusively from Federal Express boxes, and Jim Hill, a devoted Disney fan, who designed and delivered guided, but unauthorised, tours of Disneyland.
In 2005, The Economist published an article about the future of innovation that was entitled ‘The rise of the creative consumer’. This article explains that increasingly smart companies rely on identifying and leveraging the innovation potential of creative consumers. However, many companies feel threatened or upset by the actions of creative consumers. Hotz, Avila and Hill, all received negative, and in some cases threatening, reactions from the companies whose products and services they had got creative with. Consequently, it has been proposed that companies can have four general stances on creative consumers. These are defined by whether the company’s actions toward these creative consumers are active or passive, and whether the company’s attitude towards creative consumers is either positive or negative. The four resulting stances are:
- Resist stance (active/negative): restrain consumer creativity
- Discourage stance (passive/negative): tolerate or ignore consumer creativity
- Encourage stance (passive/positive): don't actively facilitate consumer creativity
- Enable stance (active/positive): actively facilitate consumer creativity
- Berthon, Pierre R.; Pitt, Leyland F.; McCarthy, Ian; Kates, Steven M. (1 January 2007). "When customers get clever: Managerial approaches to dealing with creative consumers". Business Horizons. 50 (1): 39–47. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2006.05.005.
- "The rise of the creative consumer". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 25 April 2016.