Creativity is an important form of self-expression and has significant societal benefits, but today’s work environment is stifling, say the majority of respondents to an Adobe survey [pdf] released in April 2012. Examining the attitudes of 5,000 consumers across the US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan, Adobe found that 4 in 5 say creativity is key to driving economic growth, nearly two-thirds believe that being creative is valuable to society, and roughly 3 in 5 feel that being creative is very important to them. Even so, three-quarters say they are under increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work, and two-thirds say that risk aversion in business stifles creativity.
At the same time, at least half of the respondents in each country said that people are increasingly being expected to think creatively at work.
9 in 10 US Adults Say Creativity Important to Them
Data from Adobe’s “State of Create Study” indicates that 71% of American adults consider themselves to be creative, with more than 9 in 10 saying that it is at least somewhat important to them. This was the most resounding response among the countries studied, and compares to just 44% of respondents in Japan considering themselves to be creative. Interestingly, although the smallest proportion of Japanese respondents considered themselves to be creative, a plurality of respondents within France, the UK, and Germany felt that Japan was the most creative country of those studied. Whether or not cultural factors play a role in how the Japanese respondents self-identified, they still do see the importance of creativity, with close to 9 in 10 indicating that creativity was important to them.
Marketers can stand to gain from this urge for individuals to express themselves. According to an April 2012 report from WaveMetrix, brands looking to boost social media engagement might want to harness their fans’ creativity. The report examined a Heinz Ketchup campaign where the brand asked consumers on its Facebook page to indicate what their Heinz Ketchup label would say if it were up to them to create it. Driven by the invitation to be creative, at the time of analysis (late March), consumers had submitted more than 370 responses, a dramatic increase from the average response count for the previous 20 Heinz Ketchup Facebook posts, which was less than 100.
Indeed, according to the Adobe study, 69% of respondents across the sample said they like to share what they create with others, rising to a high of 84% in the US.
Mixed Feelings on the Role of the Internet
Respondents to the Adobe study paint a muddy picture when it comes to the potential and problems presented by the internet. 51% of the total sample (with a high of 65% in the US) feel that the increasing amount of information and data on the internet has a positive impact on creativity. At the same time, 46% of the sample (with a high of 56% in France) believe that the increasing amount of time that is spent online rather than offline has a negative impact.
Half of the total sample said that the rise of consumer-generated content, such as pictures and videos, increased creativity, compared to 22% who felt that it decreased it. And 61% of the total sample said that creating online is part of their culture, with a high of 72% in the US.
Social Media Role is Insignificant
Across the total sample, just 11% of respondents said that social media motivates them a great deal to create, compared to 43% who said it somewhat motivates them, and 46% who said it does not motivate them at all. While the proportion in the US was roughly equal to the average, those in Japan showed the most affinity for social media, with about 8 in 10 saying that social media motivates them at least somewhat.
Overall, 32% of respondents said that social media behaviors such as likes, re-tweets, and Facebook posts may be hindering their ability to create, with the proportion highest in the UK (43%) and lowest in Japan (25%).
- 58% of the total sample said that technology helps them overcome their own creative limitations, and 55% said they use technology to inspire their ability to create.
- 68% of respondents said they prefer to work by themselves while being creative.
- The most common reason indicated for decreased creativity was the decreasing amount of leisure time available, cited by two-thirds of the sample. Similarly, time was cited as the biggest challenge to creativity, by 47% of respondents, although money was the most oft-cited challenge for Americans (52%).
- Within the US, the most popular reason given for an increase in creativity was the rise in the number of tools available to create with (76%).
- Respondents across the 5 countries said they spend on average 25% of their time being creative at work, and 31% of their time outside of work being creative.
- Only one-quarter of the respondents feel that they are living up to their creative potential.
About the Data: The Adobe survey was conducted by StrategyOne from March 30 to April 9, 2012. Respondents numbered 1,000 in each country.