Consumers as creative agents: How required effort influences willingness to engage

Psychology & Marketing

Zeng & Mourali


August 1, 2021


Consumers often engage with brands by participating in activities such as co-creating products and contributing ideas about product promotion. Such engagement enables consumers to be creative agents rather than mere end-users. However, it also places a burden on them, as it inevitably requires effort on the consumer part. This study investigates the impact of expected effort level (low vs. high) on consumers’ inclination toward engagement, and its underlying mechanisms. Three experiments find that higher expected effort leads to lower intention to engage. This effect is mediated by the perceived probability of success and perceived value of engagement, and the two mediators operate in tandem. Effort levels negatively affect the perceived probability of success, which exerts a positive impact on the perceived value of engagement and then on willingness to engage. We also examine the moderating effect of consumer mindsets and find that chronic and situational consumer mindsets work differently. Specifically, primed mindsets have a significant effect, but enduring mindsets do not. This study contributes to the literature on engagement and expectancy–value theory by exploring consumer effort in a context where effort aids in implementing creativity.