Generation C : Prosumers and Maturialism

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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, 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.

Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin contributes a monthly column on Social Media Influence. Raymond is a francophone author and speaker who has 20 years experience acting as a senior strategic consultant and coach for organizations, SMBs and independent professionals. Author of the books «Culture Web à la portée des PME» (2001) and «Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0» (2010), he has also contributed to several magazines and bloggers platforms over the years. His upcoming new book in French, entitled «Generation C et l’influence des consommateurs branchés», is prefaced by Neal Schaffer, and will be also published in English and Spanish during the next year. +Raymond Morin
Raymond Morin


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  1. says

    Thanks for this fascinating look “deep” into the trends that are related to the connected consumer, or Generation C. I do believe those consumer-facing brands that better align themselves with Generation C will only benefit the more from doing so. Instead of looking for “influencers” in social media, they should be looking to better engage with Generation C!

  2. says

    Hi Raymond, thank you very much for your post. Learn new things today. You are correct, we need to involve consumers now in marketing, productions, etc.

  3. says

    I didn’t know about the so-called “Generation C” but I can indeed see it and confirm the description. Still happy to see that things are changing and things like crowdsourcing are a nice addition to get a new generation to succeed in things. Older generations did have chances so kickstarter projects are probably the only way to get something ‘done’ these days. It hopefully changes the way business is done and opens the door to get rid of the old ‘dying’ way of doing business. Is it here to stay? Don’t think so, just another step in the fast developments of this time!

  4. says

    Because I work with small business owners, I’m consistently advising them how to stay connected with their consumer. Many are so focused on getting open, they forget the Generation C and that it is driving many of the markets and the business success today. Those who stay up will stay in business.

  5. says

    Really interesting to know the new global consumer trends and specially “Social Shopping” and “Maturialism”. And I think presumering is a very good approach from the producers and hopefully more and more companies will experiment on this!

  6. says

    Multi-layered response –

    As a consumer of tools and products online, i often find I am at most 2 degrees away from the founders and employees of the company. This gives me a responsibility and an advantage. But I have to be mindful of both and not take either one for granted.

    I started in game development in 1991 and have stayed tight within the industry. My husband is also in the game industry. We have lived in SF, Seattle, London, LA and Austin now back in SF.

    Through our work we have developed strong relationships around the world and get to hear first hand about some of the great ideas that you are talking about such as free fairs and rent-borrowing. It is always my privilege and pleasure to share these beautiful projects from other countries or down the street on my Facebook page, etc.

    The world has been getting smaller and smaller.

    Just yesterday, in Quora, I responded to some rude comments where people misunderstood and judged me for my question. I pointed out that we all knew each other. I showed them how closely tied we were on LinkedIn and why would they want to be anything but kind first. Of course the underlying statement was, you do realize what you are writing to me is permanent? Do you want people who both know us to see this?

    This goes back to the products and tools that are made by people I am closely linked with professionally. I am not going to blast their product online. If I feel it is necessary, I may send them a private note or give them online constructive feedback.

    The obvious next step from this is why, why – do we think that because we might not ever meet that person that we could or should blast them?

    I know I am taking your article ten layers deeper than you intended but you are talking about the celebration of consumerism, our shared society, our common humanity the discovery of being kind to the planet and being respectful to each other.

    On a personal note, for myself, strangely enough, I have had more understanding and sympathy – with common sense solutions to my heart breaking infertility from my friends in India than from my friends in the US. I know their culture has helped me find more peace with something I can’t change.

    As always, take my nuggets and leave the behind what is not relevant to your goals. This is my reaction to your beautiful article.

    I want to read everything you write Raymond! All My Best! M&M

  7. says

    In my opinion these aren’t passing trends, they will influence our way of thinking much more in future. I look at maturialism as a good new starting point for our society.

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