In recent years, several aspects of society have been transformed by new Internet technologies. Today, mobile and almost unlimited access to information coupled with the tremendous potential of media streaming provides connected consumers with a new power to influence.
These new user-consumers benefit from the value of their recommendations and the viral nature of word-of-mouth endorsements to assert a more active role in the sales process. These prosumers, which consist of the new Generation C, now exert a major influence on companies and brands. (Read also : Social Media Influence : Understanding the New Generation C )
From Alvin Toffler to TrendWatching Magazine
The term prosumer is a neologism derived from the amalgamation of the words professional (or producer) and consumer. It defines the more active role that connected consumers play in the economic process. The notion first appeared in Alvin Toffler’s book, “The Third Wave”. A futurist author, Toffler describes a new society in which consumers become producers and are called upon to test products before marketing them.
Over the years, Generation C’s connected consumers were able to take full advantage of the technological tools at their disposal to establish new rules to their advantage. Today, they conduct more research throughout the buying process and are no longer satisfied with a simple commercial offer. More critical of economic and political power, they are concerned about their future and are looking to replace the hyper-consumption and artificiality of the modern world with a style of living that’s more balanced, healthy and overall more meaningful for the rest of their community.
Social Shopping and Maturialism
Maturialism is one of the leading consumer trends among users observed by the TrendWatching team. It is a trend characterized by the strong desire of connected, more experienced consumers who choose a more mature and responsible materialism.
A study conducted in 2012 by HAVAS WorldWide, with over 7,000 web users from 19 countries called, “This Digital Life”, revealed that six out of ten people from around the world view society’s future pessimistically, and almost ¾ of them are worried about the global decline in civic and moral values. In response, users adopt new, more responsible and social approaches in their lifestyles. These new methods result in better habits concerning consumption.
Within this popular movement we’ve witnessed the emergence of more responsible behaviour among consumers. We have seen collaborative projects for consumption around the world, from free fairs in Buenos Aires to rent-share clothing borrowing in Sweden where gifting, bartering and sharing are first and foremost on the agenda. An overall trend toward social shopping continues to spread.
Involve the Consumer in the Process from the Start
TrendWatching’s November, 2012 edition highlights another consumer trend, called presumering. In recent studies, connected Generation C consumers also affect the production process and brand marketing from the start. Increasingly sought out by companies to test products and services before they are launched, these user-consumers often turn out to be the brand’s best advocates. If they didn’t enjoy their experience, they become the best guides to improve the product or service.
In their study, the American magazine’s team describe several examples of brand campaigns or organizations that have been successful thanks to the help of beta testers (especially in the video game industry) and social funding sites (crowdsourcing) like Kickstarter, Crowdcube, Idea.me or Ideiegogo who know how to involve frontline users through financing projects. For the TrendWatching team, it is a new trend that will have to be observed over the next few years with Generation C’s consumers.
What do you think? Do you believe social shopping, maturialism and presumering are passing trends or rather ones that are here to stay? Do you think beta testers and social financing are good ways to build prosumer engagement? Voice your opinion and share your comments with our readers.