Creating when you have less: The impact of resource scarcity on product use creativity

Ravi Mehta, Meng Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examines how a general sense of resource availability influences consumers' product use creativity. The authors propose and demonstrate that the salience of resource scarcity versus abundance enhances the novelty of product use solutions in independent consumption environments. An investigation of the underlying process finds that scarcity salience activates a constraint mindset that persists and manifests itself through reduced functional fixedness in subsequent product usage contexts (i.e., makes consumers think beyond the traditional functionality of a given product), consequently enhancing product use creativity. This work advances the extant creativity literature, currently limited to examining the effects of context-specific resource constraints, by establishing a context-independent linkage between resource availability and product use creativity. Furthermore, this research contributes to the scarcity literature, which has primarily focused on investigating the quantity and frequency of consumption, by examining the impact of scarcity on the quality of consumption solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-782
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Abundance
  • Creativity
  • Innovativeness
  • Product use
  • Resource constraints
  • Scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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