Has Retail Lost Its Creative Edge?
In a breakout session at the 2013 NRF Big Show last week, a survey was cited that revealed 75 percent of us think we are not living up to our creative potential. In "The Cultivation of Creativity" session, representatives from Adobe Systems, Benjamin Moore & Company and Landor Associates addressed the issue, outlining initiatives they use to nurture a culture of creativity within their organizations.
Terry Fortescu, director of marketing, digital media at Adobe Systems, summarized the company’s philosophy. "It starts from the top." Founders Dr. Charles Geschke and Dr. John Warnock hold that "good ideas come from everywhere in the company," she said.
In April of 2012 the company released its State of Create Global Benchmark Study, a series of surveys conducted in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan, which revealed what they call "TheCreativity Gap." Just some of the eye-opening findings:
- Unlocking creative potential is seen as key to economic and societal growth;
- Only one in four people feel that they are living up to their creative potential;
- There is universal concern that the educational system is stifling creativity.
Upholding its commitment to creativity, Adobe conducts a program called "Garage Week" allowing anyone in the engineering team to take one week to pursue any idea they want, as long as they’re willing to present to the whole team at the end. They also hold Marketing Brainstorms with non-marketing people from other departments, and a "Seeds of Innovation" program with cash awarded to pursue the winning ideas.
In contrast, Benjamin Moore & Co, a traditional 130-year-old organization with an age-old product and 5,000+ independent retailers, uses high tech solutions to engage customers creatively across multiple touchpoints, according to Bob Chin, manager, digital technology.
"We want to romance the customer into starting to paint," said Chin. The company pursues that with a website brimming with ideas and demonstrations, a vast trove of video, interactive color tools both online and in-store, and instructional content all tailored to the touchpoint. "Today’s technology enables this explosion of creative possibilities" for an otherwise low-tech product, according to Chin.
The session was capped by Landor Associates, a global branding company steeped in creative design and innovation since 1941. Steve McGowan, executive creative director at Landor, outlined a set of eight principles of creativity:
- Creativity is in everyone;
- Creativity is paradoxical;
- Creativity is constructive;
- Creativity is courageous;
- Creativity is perceptive;
- Creativity can be inspired or suppressed;
- Creativity is childlike;
- Creativity accepts ambiguity.
"You can’t chase cool," said McGowan. "You can chase an idea. Show up and be counted. Devise a plan. Take a chance. Fail, even."
- Adobe State of Create Global Benchmark Study – Adobe Systems report
- Universal Concern that Creativity is Suffering at Work and School – Adobe Systems press release
- Benjamin Moore & Co YouTube Channel
- Benjamin Moore’s Color Life E-Zine – YouTube
- 8 Principles of Creativity – Landor Associates blog
- Landor unleashes at Bunbury – Landor Associates blog
What does creativity mean at retail? Which retail organizations are doing the best job of nurturing creativity? What can other retail organizations do to best realize it?