Between overly normal and overly experimental

We concluded before that the continuous search for renewal in products and services is one of the characteristics of the creative industry. Partially because of the entrepreneurs themselves, as they feel a strong urge to innovate. Further reasons lie in the characteristics of their products and services and the way the audience reacts. The American economist Peter Earl and the New Zealand economist Jason Potts see this reflected in their research. It can be pretty tricky to develop something that makes your ’fans’ to continue buying your products, they conclude.

Challenging paradox
The power of creative products (consider art, design, but also theater and music) is in challenging of the user to understand the products. In order to do so, the user needs to get the opportunity to link the product to earlier experiences. This is the tricky point. Products that are too simple, and not sufficiently challenging, lead to a bored audience. This, in turn, would likely be a reason for them to start looking for other products, which do meet their needs.

The same counts for products that are too difficult and overly challenging. In this case, the users will disengage as well, because they don’t find sufficient leads to understand the product. The creative entrepreneur is given the task to develop products that give the user both the opportunity to be challenged and the chance to understand it. When this doesn’t work out well, consumers will go shopping. Probably at one of your competitors.

Quest of renewal
The quest for the right balance is a continuous process. Earl and Potts differentiate three process phases: mainstream, edgy and experimental. According to the economists, every creative organization and entrepreneur goes through these phases somewhere in their career as an expression of their necessity to renew. Sometimes it will be quick pass through, though sometimes it takes a longer period.

The market is the biggest in the mainstream phase, but the revenue of the product is relatively low. This is related to the fact that there are many active organizations in this particular phase, offering minor adjustments (or just bigger names), and trying to reach the same group of people with similar kinds of products.

As markets saturate over a certain time, it gradually becomes necessary to start experimenting and expressing more creativity. When new products, that are more challenging than the opposition’s products and inherently riskier in nature, are presented to the market, the phase is called the edgy phase. In this phase, it might be questionable to what extend the audience will be able to follow along. At a certain point the sales market for a product will, for this reason, decline.

When products become overly experimental, the sales market decreases to the extent that it isn’t profitable anymore. Organizations and entrepreneurs are obliged to figure out how to change these experimental products in a way, to make them fit again into the reference framework of the consumer. If they succeed, chances are that more consumers, kindled by one another and opinion makers, are about to embrace the products in order to make it mainstream again.

Every organization and entrepreneur within the sector is continuously in this quest for the right balance. The phenomenon leads to innovation within the industry and makes it not only a characteristic, but rather a necessity in order to be able to survive. If you keep making the same products for too long, your clients will ultimately leave.