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Exploring the effectiveness of consumer creativity in online marketing communications

Jintao Wu (Department of Management (Lingnan College), Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Na Wen (Department of Marketing (College of Business), City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Wenyu Dou (Department of Marketing (College of Business), City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Junsong Chen (Department of Business Administration (School of Business), East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




This research aims to investigate effect of consumer creativity on their evaluations of brands. Consumers’ creative participation is often used by online retailers as a promotional tool nowadays. The authors propose that consumer creativity exerts a positive impact on brand attitudes by affecting their attitudes toward the creative activity itself. Furthermore, consumer creativity moderates the effect of consumers’ perceived level of fit on their acceptance of brand extensions, such that creative consumers will show a higher level of acceptance of distant brand extensions.


The authors test their hypotheses in three laboratory experiments. Study 1 examines the effect of consumer creativity on brand evaluations. Study 2 explores the moderating effect of consumer creativity on perceived level of fit on acceptance of brand extensions. Study 3 replicates the authors findings in Studies 1 and 2 using a better representative sample and a different type of creative task.


Study 1 finds that consumer creativity results in a positive attitude toward brand; this effect is mediated by attitude toward the creative activity. Study 2 shows that creativity leads to a greater level of brand acceptance when the brand extension has a low fit with the focal brand. Study 3 further provides evidence of proposed effects using a different type of creative task with a more representative sample.

Research limitations/implications

In the experiments, this study examined three types of online creative marketing communication activities. Future research could examine other types of consumer creative activities so as to enhance the generalizability of the findings.

Practical implications

Our results provide important implications for firms that intend to exploit the promises of online creativity-themed marketing communications. First, because consumers’ attitudes toward the focal brand hinge on their attitudes toward the creative activity, it is important that firms design their creativity-themed activities carefully, so that they are attractive to the users. Second, firms can exploit the creativity edge by launching new brand extensions that target creative consumers. This effect is even more pronounced when the brand extension exhibits a low fit with the focal brand. These guidelines suggest that firms’ investments in online creativity-themed marketing communications can pay off in terms of improved consumers’ attitudes toward the firms’ brands and brand extensions.


This research makes several theoretical contributions. First, the authors explore the important role of creativity in the context of brand attitudes and brand extensions. This study adds to extant consumer creativity literature by documenting the consequences of consumer creativity in terms of positive outcomes for firms. Second, by examining the mediating effect of attitude toward the creativity task, the authors broaden the scope of attitude-toward-the-site and attitude-toward-the-sponsorship-event research to the online marketing communications setting. Third, by showing that consumer creativity can facilitate the acceptance of distant brand extensions, this study also enriches extant brand extension literature.



This study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 71272195), the Social Science Foundation of the Ministry of Education of China (no. 11YJC630221), Philosophy & Social Science Foundation of Guangdong (no. GD11YGL10), a Fundamental Research Fund from Sun Yat-Sen University and GRF Grant no. 141912 from Research Grants Council of the HKSAR Government.


Wu, J., Wen, N., Dou, W. and Chen, J. (2015), "Exploring the effectiveness of consumer creativity in online marketing communications", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 49 No. 1/2, pp. 262-276.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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