Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15                                                         Contents lists avail...
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C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15                                      11number of cons...
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Making a face: Graphical illustrations of managerial stances toward customer creativity


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Creative consumers – consumers who adapt, modify or transform a proprietary offering – represent an intriguing paradox for business. On the one hand they can be a black hole for future revenue, with breach of copyright and intellectual property, while on the other hand they represent a gold mine of ideas and business opportunities. This problem is central to business – business needs to both create and capture value; the problem is that creative consumers demand a shift in the mindsets and business models of how firms both create and capture value. We develop a typology of firms’ stances to creative consumers based upon their attitude and action towards customer innovation. We then consider the implications of the stances model for corporate strategy, and examine a three-step approach to dealing with creative consumers, namely, awareness, analysis and response.

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Making a face: Graphical illustrations of managerial stances toward customer creativity

  1. 1. Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Australasian Marketing Journal journal homepage: a face: Graphical illustrations of managerial stances towardcustomer creativityColin L. Campbell a,⇑, Pierre R. Berthon b,1, Leyland F. Pitt c,2, Ian McCarthy c,3, Kirk Plangger c,4a Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Caulfield East, Victoria 3145, Australiab Marketing Department, Morison Hall 250, Bentley University, USAc Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canadaa r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c tArticle history: Creative consumers – consumers who adapt, modify or transform a proprietary offering – represent anAvailable online 17 November 2011 intriguing paradox for business. On the one hand they can be a black hole for future revenue, with breach of copyright and intellectual property, while on the other hand they represent a gold mine of ideas andKeywords: business opportunities. This problem is central to business – business needs to both create and captureCreative customers value; the problem is that creative consumers demand a shift in the mindsets and business models ofFirm stance how firms both create and capture value. We develop a typology of firms’ stances to creative consumersStrategic response based upon their attitude and action towards customer innovation. We then consider the implications ofDiagnostics the stances model for corporate strategy, and examine a three-step approach to dealing with creative consumers, namely, awareness, analysis and response. Ó 2011 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.1. Introduction on the David Letterman show, drew mixed reactions from the two brands. Mentos contacted the experimenters and said that How do firms feel about consumers who alter and modify their they loved what they were doing, and asked how they could help.proprietary offerings? How do managers measure their stances to- A Coca-Cola spokesperson, quoted in the Wall Street Journal wasward this, and what will firms do, or be prepared to do about this far less enthusiastic, stating, ‘‘We would hope people want to drinkbehavior? How can the type complex data that would result from [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it’’, adding, ‘‘the crazi-this type of investigation be summarized and communicated suc- ness with Mentos. . .doesn’t fit with the brand personality of Dietcinctly and effectively? Coke.’’ (King, 2007) Some time later, however, Coca Cola changed Recent reports in the popular business press and in the media in its stance, and became enthusiastic supporters of the Mentos-Dietgeneral have highlighted corporate dilemmas in the face of the Coke experiments. The firm used its corporate Web sites—http://relentless meddling of ‘‘creative consumers’’. Apple’s iPhone 4 and—to add The Cokewas hacked, unlocked or jailbroken (depending on one’s views). Show, a series of user-generated video challenges, featuring theMicrosoft’s Kinect gaming device suffered a similar fate, as did a Mentos-Diet Coke experiments.range of Sony’s gaming devices. Yet it is not just the marketers of The Mentos-Diet Coke experiments emphasize a number ofdigital technologies that are exposed to the creative wiles of their simple, but important facts. First, consumers are creative when itcustomers – even simple consumption products suffer a similar comes to the proprietary offerings of firms, and their creativity isfate. The video hosting website YouTube features literally hun- not limited to programmable, high-tech, digital products – it spansdreds of videos showing what happens when the well-known che- a wide spectrum. Second, their creativity is not necessarily focusedwy candy Mentos is dissolved in Diet Coke (King, 2007). One of the on making products better, or easier to use – often it is simplybest-known illustrations of this explosive phenomenon, featured about having fun. Third, their attempts at creativity are far more easily broadcast and disseminated in this age of digital social med- ia – one of the Mentos-Diet Coke videos, dubbed ‘‘Experiment ⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 3 9905 5539; fax: +61 3 9905 5560. #137’’, has attracted more than 8 million viewers on YouTube. E-mail addresses: (C.L. Campbell), (P.R. Fourth, different firms adapt different stances to the phenomenonBerthon), (L.F. Pitt), (I. McCarthy), (K. of consumer creativity: Mentos was positively disposed toward it,Plangger). 1 while Coca Cola was (initially) negative. Finally, firms can and do Tel.: +1 781 891 3189; fax: +1 7818913189. 2 Tel.: +1 778 782 7712. change their stances toward consumer creativity: After becoming 3 Tel.: +1 778 782 5298. aware of, and analyzing the phenomenon, Coca Cola changed its 4 Tel.: +1 778 928 9922. stance and the way it acted – from being placidly against the1441-3582/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.ausmj.2011.10.009
  2. 2. 10 C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15phenomenon to actively supporting it. Importantly, this required to experiment with a firm’s offering, and most firms have no formalthe management of Coca Cola to become aware of the phenome- processes for identifying them.non (‘‘What are consumers doing with our products apart from Creative consumers are an increasingly prevalent and importantconsuming them, and how are they doing this?’’) (King, 2007). phenomenon, due to increases in the modularity and reconfigurabil-Having become aware of it, the firm needed to analyze what was ity of products, and the availability of Internet technologies that al-happening and the effect it could have (it needed information low them to communicate and disseminate their knowledge andnot only on the creativity phenomenon, but also on general market innovations (Mollick, 2005). The digital milieu affords unparalleledsentiment toward it). Having analyzed the phenomenon, Coca Cola opportunities for customers to exercise their ingenuity. The Internethad to take action. It changed from a firm mildly annoyed by con- permits the rapid dissemination and communication of customersumer creativity, to one that exploited it for the positive consumer innovations, and hobby programmers delight in improvising andengagement it fostered with the brand. improving carefully written code. Modular products that embody These are the questions on which this paper focuses. First, is it high levels of reconfigurability, and inexpensive hardware, particu-possible to measure the stance of a firm toward consumer creativ- larly in the form of computer chips and storage media, enable enthu-ity, and more specifically, how well a firm becomes aware of it; siasts to explore a range of technologies. The presence of creativehow effectively it analyzes it, and how prepared the firm is to take consumers has been noted across a range of product categories (Choiaction concerning it? Second, is it possible to summarize these and Perez, 2007; Flowers, 2008; Jeppeson, 2005; Lüthje, 2004), asmeasurements for the individual firm, and at aggregate level, to well as other marketing functions, particularly advertising (Munizportray these graphically in an effective way? In other words, is and Schau, 2007; Berthon et al., 2008). As these consumers are char-it possible to portray the stance of a firm toward consumer acterized as having novelty seeking and creativity producing behav-creativity in a simple, yet powerful manner, so that it can be com- iors (Hirschman, 1980; von Hippel, 1989), they are considered to bemunicated to whoever the firm decides is a target audience – an important, if not a valuable external resource for firms engaged inmanagement, employees, customers, or a broader public? The innovation (Chesbrough, 2003; Füller, 2006; von Hippel, 1989).paper is structured as follows: First, we briefly review the literature The Mentos-Diet Coke phenomenon discussed in the introduc-on consumer creativity, and illustrate the notion of firm stances to- tion shows that individual firms might feel differently about crea-ward the phenomenon by means of recent examples of consumer tive consumers, and that firms also can, and do, change what theycreativity and firm reactions to these. Next we describe the use of think of, and are prepared to do, about them. Berthon et al. (2008)an instrument to measure firm stances toward consumer creativity define how a firm views, and what it is prepared to do about, cre-within a large sample of firms. However, the focus is not so much ative consumers, as a firm’s stance, and note that firms adopt aon the psychometric properties of the instrument, or on a sophisti- range of stances toward creative consumers. They differentiate be-cated analysis of this data as it is on the use of a powerful statistical tween the various stances a firm might hold using two axes: agraphic technique that is used to summarize and display the vari- firm’s attitude towards, and action on consumer innovation. Atti-ous stances toward consumer creativity. Therefore, the next section tude to consumer innovation is a firm’s espoused policy or philoso-of the paper introduces the Chernoff Faces technique and applies it phy towards the phenomenon in principle; it can range fromto the results of the study as a way of illustrating the technique’s positive to negative. The espoused philosophy typically reflectsuse in this regard. The paper concludes by acknowledging some the mental mindset of top management, but can also range fromof the limitations in the approach, by identifying managerial impli- a subtle form of politicking to poor organizational communication.cations and outlining some avenues for future research. Action on consumer innovation comprises what a firm does once the phenomenon has actually been detected. This can range from2. Creative consumers: concepts, proliferation, stances and active to passive. These two axes delineate a fourfold typology ofexamples firm postures to consumer innovation, comprising the stances of discourage, resist, encourage and enable. The four stances are The notion of user innovation – which refers to innovation by shown in Fig. 1 and described and illustrated below.end users, firms and creative consumers (von Hippel, 1986, 1989)– has been of interest to researchers and practitioners alike for 2.1. Discouragesome time. The notion of the lead user was originally alluded toby von Hippel (1986), who defined them as users whose current The hair loss drug Propecia is medically identical to, but only astrong needs will become general in a marketplace months or 1/5th of the dose, of Proscar, a drug used for an enlarged prostate. Ayears in the future. However, it has been argued that ‘‘creative con-sumers’’ are different to that of ‘‘lead users’’. Creative consumershave been defined as individuals or communities of individuals Activewho to some extent adapt or modify a proprietary product offering Reject: actively Enable: actively restrain customer facilitate customer(Berthon and McCarthy, 2007). They are different to ‘‘lead users’’ in creativity innovationthree ways: First, creative consumers work with all types of offer- e.g. Sony e.g. Valveings, not just novel or enhanced products (the focus of the lead AiboPet, Software, BBCuser). For example, Muniz and Schau (2005) describe a community Firm’s FedExof creative consumers still using, modifying and creating content Actions towardsfor Apple’s defunct Newton PDA despite the fact that the product Creative Discourage: but Encourage: butceased production in the mid-1990s. Second, creative consumers Customers de facto tolerate/ don’t activelydo not necessarily face needs that will become general; rather, they ignore facilitatewill often work on personal interests that can remain individual, or e.g. Sony PSP, e.g. Skypecastingexpand in use to a subset of users. The Mentos-Diet Coke experi- Apple Podcasting Toyotamenters are satisfying needs for fun, creativity, entertainment Passive Disneyand experimentation, rather than attempting to improve the prod- Negative Firm’s Attitude towards Positiveucts for physical consumption. Third, while firms tend to use a for- Creative Customersmal and disciplined process to find, screen, and select lead users(von Hippel et al., 1999), creative consumers rarely ask permission Fig. 1. Firms’ stances towards creative consumers.
  3. 3. C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15 11number of consumers have identified this, and have begun asking magazines. Her Wiener Bench – a wooden bench festooned withtheir doctors to prescribe Proscar for them, and then cutting them fat pink crocheted tubes – was made from an old Ikea side table,up. Most health insurance schemes, or national health programs in the yarn from 60 used sweaters and the stuffing from a sofa, leftcountries with national health insurance will cover Proscar since on her street on rubbish day (Ikea Hackers, 2011). Until very re-it’s ostensibly for a ‘‘real disease’’ whereas Propecia use is seen as cently the company however, was unaware of this consumer crea-vanity. Merck, whose response to customers’ behavior thus far tivity. When shown a web site featuring these innovations, Monahas been negative, but faint, markets both drugs. CEO and Chair- Liss, director of public relations for Ikea in the United States, com-man, Raymond Gilmartin, has released a public statement, saying mented: ‘‘I could spend all day looking at this.’’ She then opined’’We don’t recommend that people try to divide Proscar tablets to that what compels an Ikea hacker to hack, in addition to whatcreate a dose of Propecia’’, however, the firm has not done anything she called Ikea’s clean palette, ‘‘is this invisible aura of Ikea, some-further to prohibit pill-splitting. Berthon et al. (2008) refer to this thing in our DNA that is inviting and unspoken.’’ (Green, 2007).type of stance as discourage. Here a firm’s attitude towards con- However, apart from this mild enthusiasm, the company has notsumer innovation is negative, but the firm’s actions are de facto taken any direct action to facilitate consumer creativity. This thirdpassive. While the firm might verbally reprimand consumer inno- stance is what Berthon et al. (2008) the encourage position. Thevation, by taking no manifest action, it essentially allows or disre- firm’s attitude towards consumer innovation is primarily positive,gards the behavior. but the firm’s actions are again de facto passive. In this instance firms verbally laud and applaud consumer innovation, but take2.2. Resist no overt action to facilitate it – this stance is a positive but ‘hands-off’ approach to the phenomenon. The famous hacker, George Hotz, also known as ‘‘GeoHot’’, un-locked or ‘‘jailbreaked’’ the Sony PlayStation 3 computer game con- 2.4. Enablesole and then posted a video on YouTube showing others how to dothis. On his blog Hotz suggested that he did this creative act simply The web site hackthissite ( is ‘‘afor the challenge and celebrity of being the first to hack a console free, safe and legal training ground for hackers to test and expandthat was deemed to be hacker proof. However, regardless of Hotz’s their hacking skills. It offers many active projects in development,motivation, Sony has been aggressively pursuing him, so as to warn with a large selection of hacking articles and a forum where usersother consumers to keep their creative hands off their products. can discuss hacking, network security, and other areas of interest.Sony began by filing a lawsuit that accused Hotz of violating the Likewise, the open source browser Firefox provides a web site forDigital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and enthusiasts who wish to contribute to the product’s evolutionAbuse Act. This was followed by legal action that forced Google, ( to obtain resources, shareYouTube and Twitter to disclose the identities of those who viewed ideas, and work on further developments. The fourth stance isor commented on his YouTube video and personal website since what Berthon et al. (2008) term enable. Here the organization’sJanuary 2009 (Techspot, 2011). With these actions, Sony is making attitude towards consumer innovation is positive, but in contrastit clear that they are not open to this type of consumer creativity. to the previous encourage stance, the organization’s posture isThey will seek and hound any individual who tries to circumvent clearly active. Not only does the organization vocally acclaim con-how their products work, and they will vigorously work to identify sumer innovation, it also actively assists consumers innovate withand ban users who run hacked PlayStation 3 consoles (BBC, 2011). its products. This is very much a ‘hands-on’, positive approach toNot only is this stance hurting Sony’s reputation among the lead the users community, it is impacting their ability to hire Berthon et al. (2008) caution that while it would be ideal iftechnology talent. For example, with headlines such as ‘‘Hackers there was ‘‘one correct’’ stance in the grid in Fig. 1, like mostHate Sony for GeoHot Goof’’ it is being reported that famous soft- important and complex issues in management, there is no simpleware engineers and hackers are turning down lucrative job offers and easy solution. The 2 Â 2 matrix, instead, should prompt a ser-because of Sony’s treatment of George Hotz (Techni Buzz, 2011). ies of questions that will require a firm to evaluate whether it hasThis is an example of what Berthon et al. (2008) term the resist the appropriate stance for the set of environmental circumstancesstance. What distinguishes this stance from the discourage posture under which it operates. In subsequent work by Berthon et that while the firm’s attitude towards consumer innovation is (forthcoming) the authors developed and tested a 24-item scalestill negative, the firm’s responses are active. Thus, firms verbally for researchers and practitioners to assess the three dimensionsberate consumer innovation and also follow up their espoused po- that would determine a firm’s stance: the extent to which an orga-sition with punitive action. The firm actively seeks to minimize or nization is aware of its creative customers, its attitude towards itseliminate consumer innovations. creative customers, and finally the action it takes in response to its creative customers. These dimension were then each split into two2.3. Encourage components as follows: Awareness = The extent to which the firm is informed about creative consumers, and the extent to which the The Swedish furniture retailer Ikea attracts a large number of firm seeks new information about creative consumers; Atti-consumer innovators. Winnie Lam was thinking about food when tude = The extent which the firm is positive towards creative con-she made her Chocolate Sundae Toppings footstool, fashioned from sumers, and how open-minded towards creative consumers thea few bags of cotton pompoms hot-glued to an Ikea stool. ‘‘It came firm is; and, Action = the extent to which the firm is nurturing to-from staring into a bowl of ice cream one day,’’ said Ms. Lam, 31, wards creative consumers, and the extent to which the firm iswho lives in California, and is a product manager at Google. ‘‘I’m directing (or controlling) towards creative consumers.a chocolate lover, but I’d rather look at it than eat it.’’ (Ikea Hackers,2011). Alex Csiky, a 43-year-old guitar maker in Ontario, was fo-cused on blowing a raspberry at the guitar-making industry while 3. The studyat the same time making a great sound when he built his sleekblond electric guitar from an Ikea pine tabletop. Christine Domanic, Our intention in this paper is not so much to test the instrument28, an artist who was living at the time in Philadelphia, found the described above as to demonstrate how a relatively simple butinspiration for her rolling bench in the sex ads in the back of city powerful statistical graphic tool can be used to display complex
  4. 4. 12 C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15data in an appealing and easily accessible way. Therefore, we have multivariate data based on appropriate visual cues (Garner,chosen not to describe any rigorous testing of the scale or the data 1974; Spoehr and Lehmkuhle, 1982). The human face (or a simplerhere. Our study utilized a convenience sample of Executive MBA representation of it) is one of the most effective graphical icons forstudents, drawing on two pools of mature executive students from visually clustering multivariate data, particularly for long-termNorth American universities. Unlike most convenience student memory processing. Wang (1978) describes a number of paperssamples used in marketing research, these individuals were all in on applications of faces to multivariate data, while Wilkensonfull-time employment in organizations; the average age was (1982) showed that faces can be more effective than many other37 years; the average annual income was $97 000; and all could icons for similarity classified as being in middle- to senior management positions The facial technique was originally proposed by the statistician(many held the title of CEO). The respondents were required to Chernoff (1973). It is helpful first, in that widely divergent facialcomplete the Campbell et al. (forthcoming) scale. 178 usable ques- features are shown, each of which can be associated with a differ-tionnaires were returned. As a precursor, t-tests were used to ex- ent variable. Second, most people are able to discern correctly be-plore whether there were significant differences between the two tween faces with different features. In Chernoff’s (1973) opinion,samples on each of the items – none were found, so the two sam- ‘‘People grow up studying and reacting to faces all of the time.ples were pooled. A further question described the four stances (as Small and barely measurable differences are easily detected anddefined above) toward creative consumers and asked the respon- evoke emotional reactions from a long catalog buried in the mem-dent which description best matched that of their firm. ory’’ (p. 362). He later went onto say (Chernoff, 1978): ‘‘I believe The results of the study are summarized in Table 1 below. As that we learn very early to study and react to real faces. We per-can be seen from the table, the majority of firms in the sample ceive the face as a gestalt and our built-in computer is quick to pickeither held the Encourage or Resist stances. The responses to the out the relevant information and to filter out the noise when look-24-item scale were summaries by the components of the three ing at a limited number of faces’’ (p. 1).dimensions of the scale, and these are reported for each stance in The Chernoff Faces procedure has been incorporated into manyTable 1. The data from the table was then used as input to the statistics and statistical graphics packages. Essentially the proce-Chernoff Faces routine in the statistical program R. In the following dure involves the assignment of variables in the data set to the fea-section we discuss Chernoff Faces in general, and then describe and tures of a human face. It is both relatively cogent and flexible anddiscuss the specific application of Chernoff Faces to the display of can be tailored to suit the prerequisites of almost any data set,overall corporate stance toward creative consumers. and the technique has been applied in a wide range of disciplines and fields. Chernoff (1973) describes its use in such diverse fields as the study of fossil data, in geology. Apaiwongse (1995) employs4. Chernoff faces the approach to detect perceptions among market drivers toward environmental protection policies, while more recently Raciborski Over the years various graphic display techniques including pie- (2009) applies Chernoff Faces to a portrayal of public utility data. Incharts, histograms and scatter diagrams have been used to portray marketing specifically, Huff et al. (1981) used faces to illustratestatistical data (Beniger and Robyn, 1978; Zelazny, 1972). From the progressions of business failure and success, and Golden and Sirde-1980s onward, the accessibility of user-friendly software and rela- sai (1992) displayed consumers’ perceptions of multi-dimensional,tively inexpensive graphics plotters and printers, as well as other multi-object attributes (brand and retail image impressions) usingmedia-producing devices with which to create these displays, Chernoff Faces. Nel et al. (1994) illustrated and compared servicegreatly expedited the task of researchers and managers in commu- quality scores from a large-sample customer satisfaction studynicating numeric information. Unfortunately the ability of many of using the procedure. Nowadays, rudimentary Chernoff Faces canthese displays to depict multi-dimensional data was severely con- even be constructed using simple commands in spreadsheets suchstrained, particularly when a basis for generalizing and communi- as Excel (Hunt, 2004).cating relationships was desired. Some researchers explored iconsas a way of displaying multivariate data (Everitt, 1978; Cleveland,1985). This variety of icons for representing multivariate data in- 4.1. Generating Chernoff facescluded tools such as Fourier blobs (Fienberg, 1979), glyphs(Anderson, 1969) and faces (Chernoff, 1973). These offered novel Despite the advances in computer statistical and graphic pro-ways of presenting intricate data by means of straightforward, cessing capabilities that had occurred in the previous twenty years,interpretable pictures. Nel et al. (1994) still lamented the difficulty of generating Chernoff Unlike most graphs, icons are not designed to communicate Faces. To a large extent, these problems have been overcome re-absolute numerical information. They are intended for recognizing cently by researchers such as Raciborski’s (2009) published syntaxclusters of similar variables and are useful for sorting or organizing, for easy use with the high-end statistical and data analysis packageand especially comparing, variables that differ in many respects. by StataCorp (2009) that generates Chernoff Faces to ‘‘detect pat-While some researchers argued the use of icons to be subjective terns, clusters, outliers, and temporal trends’’, and also the open-and ad hoc, cognitive science research on multi-attributable visual source statistical software R. This study uses the faces procedureprocessing, has shown that people can accurately categorize under R to allocate facial features similar to the procedure Table 1 Firm stances toward creative consumers. Stance Discourage Encourage Resist Enable Number (self-reported): 20 68 72 18 Informed about creative consumers 4.78 5.86 5.96 6.04 Seeking new information about creative consumers 3.89 4.68 6.33 6.41 Positive towards creative consumers 2.05 5.64 1.76 6.29 Open-minded about creative consumers 4.42 5.84 2.78 4.89 Nurturing towards creative consumers 1.97 5.32 1.43 6.11 Directing (controlling) toward creative consumers 3.87 4.01 6.32 3.57
  5. 5. C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15 13described by Raciborski (2009). Our allocation procedure for doing to measure stances toward these. The paper has limitations in that,this, as well as our results, are summarized in Fig. 2 below. As ref- obviously, it does not claim to be a definitive study of the position-erence points, two extreme faces were generated using the actual ing of all firms toward creative consumers, but merely representsminimum and maximum values from the dataset (recall that the the views of managers in a convenience sample, as a means ofscales used in the study is a 7-point Likert-type scale). These are illustration of a technique. The convenience sample was chosenshown in Fig. 2 below: for purposes of exploration and illustration only. Obviously it As can be seen from Fig. 2, the ‘‘ideal’’ corporate stance toward would be relatively simple to get the data on firm stances towardcreative consumers, would have a fat, longish face, dense hair creative consumers from more scientifically designed samples. The‘‘combed’’ upward, large round eyes with large round pupils, a pictures obtained here could well have been very different had dif-large broad nose and a broadly smiling mouth. The ‘‘least ideal’’ ferent, or other firms been chosen. Second, a study such as this pro-face for a firm stance toward creative consumers would be the vides more of a snapshot in time than an ultimate set of results. Asminimum values face shown in Fig. 2, which is thinner and shorter, demonstrated by the Coca Cola stance in the Mentos-Diet Cokehas very little (and downward sloping) hair, tiny eyes with no pu- example, a firm’s stance toward creative consumers can be dy-pils, and very thin, small nose, and a small, unsmiling mouth. namic, so that the scores obtained, and thus the Chernoff Faces, We then used the data for the four stances toward creative con- are for firms up to that particular point in time. It may very wellsumers shown in Table 1 to construct the Chernoff Faces presented be that if the data had been collected at a different time, perhapsin Fig. 2. It is obvious that the faces of the four stances are quite dif- a few months earlier or later and then subjected to an analysis, thatferent. While the Enable stance is not perfect on all the attributes, very different faces would have emerged. The nature of the crea-it does present a favorable picture overall, with the exception of its tive consumer phenomenon and firm stances toward it is such thathair. The nice fat face = reasonably well informed about creative stances could evolve continuously. Third, the allocation of criteriaconsumers; large eyes = open-minded about creative consumers; to facial features is in a sense always arbitrary and will dependthe long, fattish nose = seeks information about creative consum- on the allocator’s personal preferences. For example, a smile caners; the large mouth = nurturing toward creative consumers and signal a lot, and could be perceived by many to be the most impor-the broad smile = positive toward creative consumers. While there tant feature, with possible negative interpretation as a result. Foris dense hair, this is downward sloping, indicating that even Enable example, in Fig. 2, the nose size of the Resist and Enable stancesstances are somewhat directive and controlling toward creative is quite similar. If ‘‘directing and controlling toward creative con-consumers. On the other hand, the Resist stance also has a long sumers’’ is regarded as the most important criterion, then somefat face = reasonably well informed about creative consumers; observers might perceive that there is little difference betweenbut has small eyes = not open-minded about creative consumers; these stances, and a similar conclusion could be drawn on being in-also has a long, fattish nose = seeks information about creative con- formed about the phenomenon (the size of the face). Finally, thesumers; but has a narrow, mouth = nurturing toward creative con- Berthon et al. (forthcoming) scale for the assessment of firmsumers, that is unhappy = negative toward creative consumers. Its stances toward the creative consumer phenomenon is still in thehair is less dense hair, downward sloping, indicating that it is early stages of its development, so subsequent changes to the scalesomewhat directive and controlling toward creative consumers. are not represented here and will have to be incorporated into fu- ture research.5. Limitations of this study 6. Managerial implications and avenues for future research In this paper we outline an approach for simultaneously map-ping corporate stances toward creative consumers using Chernoff A number of managerial implications become apparent fromFaces, based on their scores on the dimensions of an overall scale the research conducted here. First, if the firms considered here Fig. 2. Chernoff Faces – assignment of attributes, best and worst case scenarios, and attributes by stance.
  6. 6. 14 C.L. Campbell et al. / Australasian Marketing Journal 20 (2012) 9–15do have clearly defined stances toward the creative consumer phe- effectively both within the firm and beyond its borders. As technol-nomenon, these are probably still at a nascent stage. Firms will ogy, markets, and consumers advance and develop, there willneed to think objectively about their stances toward creative con- undoubtedly be a migration between stances, and firms will needsumers, articulate their attitudes toward them, find ways of to reflect this both in their thinking and in their communicationbecoming aware of them, and then decide on the actions they will with various stakeholders. As Berthon et al. (2008) advise,be willing to take. Astute managers will define the issues that they responding to the threats and opportunities of creative consumerscare most about, as well as the characteristics of the creative con- will require firms to manage a three-way fit between their stance,sumer phenomenon (for example, how they seek information, and the relative ability and desire of consumers to adapt, modify, andthe extent to which they want to be able to control and direct cre- transform their products, and the firm’s ability to scan, track, andative consumers) that they deem most important. They will also control consumer-produced innovations. In doing so they will needmonitor the activities of other firms they regard either as compet- to use every tool at their disposal. We suggest that Chernoff Facesitors or benchmarks. In this instance, iconic tools such as Chernoff can be a simple yet powerful tool in the manager’s arsenal that willFaces that permit the simultaneous picturing of bundles of attri- allow them to assimilate complex information quickly, track thebutes in multidimensional space might become invaluable tools. market dynamics that create this information over time, and toFirms will be able to use tools such as Chernoff Faces to communi- communicate this to the various stakeholders who impact on it,cate their stances toward creative consumers to a range of different and are in turn affected by it.stakeholders, including management teams, personnel, suppliers, What can a manager do with creative consumer stance data andand obviously, customers. Finally, managers will also be able to Chernoff Faces in a marketing sense? In summary, we would arguemonitor their stances over time, perhaps by using the scale in that a marketer can use the faces to assess their own firm’s stances,which the data presented here is based, and thus be able to track track these over time, and compare themselves to competitortheir stance longitudinally. firms. From a customer perspective, marketers can use the faces, Exploratory studies such as those reported in this paper also and the data contained therein to communicate what their atti-open up a stream of future opportunities for research. First, pre- tudes towards customer creativity with their products is and whatsenting different target groups with the faces and gauging their re- the firm will be prepared to do about it. In times of rapid techno-sponses to, and interpretation of, the visual stimuli would shed logical and social change, coupled with a concomitant reductionfurther light on how effective devises such as Chernoff Faces are in attention span, graphic devices such as faces might prove toat communicating complex multivariate data (e.g. Cook, 1996; be a useful marketing communication tool.deSanctis and Jarvenpaa, 1989; Dickson et al., 1986). Second, Cher-noff faces are as amenable to showing the results of secondary data Referencesas they are to showing the results of survey studies. Researcherscould analyze the text of the interactions that users have concern- Anderson, E., 1969. A semigraphical method for the analysis of complex consumer creativity that occurs in online media, and then com- Technometrics 2 (3), 339–387. Apaiwongse, T.S., 1995. Facial display of environmental policy uncertainty. Journalmunicate the results of this analysis by means of Chernoff Faces. of Business and Psychology 10 (1), 65–74.For example, researchers such as Opoku et al. (2008), describe tools Barros, S., 2009. Know your numbers: 10 free web analytics tools for your website.that can be used to analyze large amounts of text by means of com- < analytics-tools-for-your-website/> (accessed 15.03.10).puterized content analysis that could be employed in this regard. BBC, 2011. <> (20.03.11).The links between what is being said about a firm’s interaction Beniger, J.R., Robyn, D.L., 1978. Quantitative graphics in statistics: a brief history.with creative consumers in the media (particularly online) and The American Statistician 32 (February), 1–10. Berthon, Pitt., McCarthy, Kates., 2007. When customers get clever: managerialits measured responses on the stances scale can be explored. Third, approaches to dealing with creative consumers. Business Horizons 50 (1), 39–47.researchers could employ a vast array of tools that are readily Berthon, P.R., Pitt, L.F., Campbell, C., 2008. Ad Lib: when customers create the Ad.available online for social media analysis (many of them free, or California Management Review, 50, 4(Summer), 6–30. Berthon, P., Campbell, C., Pitt, L., McCarthy, I. (forthcoming). Creative consumers:at minimal charge, see Barros, 2009) and combine this with mea- awareness, attitude, & action. Journal of Consumer Marketing.sures of stances to create more advanced faces than those pre- Chernoff, H., 1973. The use of faces to represent points in k-dimensional spacesented here. These data are just as suitable for the construction graphically. Journal of American Statistical Association 68, 361–368. Chernoff, H., 1978. Graphical representation as a discipline. In: Wang, Peter C., (Ed.),of Chernoff Faces as the data used in this study. Finally, there are Graphical Representation of Multivariate Data. 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