I had a client ask me yesterday about the term “prosumer.” I emailed him back a short explanation, and that made me want to dig around some more.
Turns out, the futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term about 25 years ago to describe a phenomenon that should sound eerily familiar – the blending of producers and consumers. But I’ve also seen it recently used as the merger of “professional” and “consumer” – meaning someone who is passionate about, say, photography, and purchases the very best equipment, but isn’t a professional photographer.
A study by a major global ad agency found that Prosumers share several characteristics. Prosumers
• Get a rush from discovering new things
• Transport trends
• Pursue “timeless” value
• Seek out new challenges and experiences
• Recognize their value as a consumer and expect their chosen brands to do likewise
• Are marketing savvy and use multiple media sources
• Demand top-notch customer service and unlimited access to information
A popular consumer anthropologist (yes, that’s a real job) notes that Prosumers also seek aspects of the social in everything they do. Prosumers, he says, are reconnecting with their core values, including connecting with family and friends. Things like scrapbooking, book clubs, reality TV and even knitting are popular Prosumer trends right now. These are largely women-centered, so that’s why I mention it.
But here’s the most interesting thing this guy had to say:
“The funny thing to me is that the behavior we’re seeing is quite similar to what we saw during our research with a small group of hunter gatherer gardeners in Papua, New Guinea. People there, and Prosumers here, thrive on the meaning and social relationships they imbue into, and receive from, the intersection of people and objects they interact with.”
Hmmm. Perhaps Prosumer isn’t so much a trend as it is a core human value. We want to participate in things we’re passionate about, we want to connect with others who share our passion and we want to feel like we’ve discovered something new.
How can you integrate Prosumers into your business?