What is great creativity and what does it make you do?

Representation of Ecosystem

What is great creativity and what does it make you do?

WPP asked 3,500 consumers across five countries – the UK, the US, Germany, Chile and China – what great creativity means to them and how it makes them act. This is what they told us

Creativity makes something happen. It causes us to do something, feel something and it can shift the dial. We all react differently – or do we?

WPP wanted to find out what consumers across five countries think about creativity, and what they are likely to do when they see it. We found that – when asked how likely consumers are to take various actions when they see a brand, business or company do something in a creative way – 57% of consumers we asked were more likely to want to learn more about these brands (than to do nothing at all).

Chart 1: when a brand is seen as creative, consumers are more likely to engage with brand in each of the following ways 

Global Average Indexed chart

“This tells us that creativity matters,” says Michael Sussman PhD of WPP’s BAV® – who conducted the research. “Creative brands drive incrementally greater consumer interest, more positive attitudes and more proactive and engaging behaviours among consumers.” 

So, what is great creativity? 

Across the world, when asked what great creativity is, the word the largest proportion of consumers associated with creativity was ‘inspiring’, closely followed by ‘imaginative’. Then came ‘artistic’, ‘motivating’ and ‘clever’. ‘Humorous’ was a word that performed least well in the survey. 

 Chart 2: Great creativity is:

Chart showing Global Average: "Great Creativity is…"

Drill down into these global numbers, and we can see that creativity means different things by gender. Men are more inclined to talk about creativity as ‘inspiring’ and ‘clever’ than women. And women find creativity more ‘imaginative’, ‘motivating’, ‘artistic’, ‘surprising’, ‘transformative’ and ‘courageous’ than men. These are the types of insights that can be fed into a brand’s positioning and can guide the creative approach for different gender-based audiences.

Chart 3: Great creativity is…men and women disagree 

Chart showing Global average among male and females: "Great Creativity is…"

On a more granular level, it becomes clear that ‘inspiring’ and ‘imaginative’ are words that consumers aged over 50 are more inclined to use than those in younger categories. We can see that 35-49-year-olds consider creativity significantly more ‘surprising’ than other demographics, which begs the question whether brands can harness this insight to surprise and delight Millennials. 

We can also see a slight increase in 18-34-year-olds who consider creativity to be ‘emotional’ or ‘courageous’ versus other demographics. Perhaps we are seeing – in this chart – the ability of creativity executed with purpose to captivate younger audiences. 

Chart 4: Great creativity is…different demographics disagree 

Chart showing Global average among different age groups: "Great Creativity is…"

Possibly the most stand-out results are by country. In China, the over 50s responded strongly that great creativity is ‘imaginative, ‘emotional’ and ‘inspiring’. In Chile, the over 50s responded strongly that great creativity is ‘inspiring’ and ‘transformative’. Clearly there is a cultural element to the perception of creativity; it is not just about gender and demographics. We found this to be the case across the study.

What does all this mean?

Sussman says: “We know creativity is the differentiator in our industry. It’s what makes us stand apart and why clients come to us. What we have been able to determine, through this study, is what consumers see in creativity and how it motivates them. Ultimately, creativity drives brand momentum. Our analysis shows that highly creative brands grow at over two times the rate of other brands, as measured by annual income growth and other market metrics.” 

He continues: “This is important because we want our creativity – at WPP – to deliver results. Yes, we want to access consumers’ imaginations and inspire them, but we also want them to act – learn more about brands and consider buying their product. That is what we can see here.”