Imagine a scenario where consumers become so involved in the customization of products that they themselves become part of the production process! Well, this scenario may not be as far-fetched as you think, as is being proven with the rise of the so-called ‘prosumers’, who influence a manufacturer’s decision-making process. Take professional photographers, or even enthusiasts, for example. Their inputs to photography equipment manufacturers have resulted in a new category of cameras that fits snugly between low-cost consumer cameras and high-end professional cameras.
Though the term ‘prosumer’ is not new—it was coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1980 book ‘The Third Wave’—its implications in the current Web 2.0 world are. Today’s customers are no longer like their counterparts of the past. In fact, there has been a tremendous increase in customer awareness due to the convergence of Internet and Information-Communication Technology (ICT). This is attributed primarily to the rise of social media, and has provided customers with significantly greater access to information about products and services, well before they actually purchase them.
What’s more, many companies have had to create specific roles such as Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) in order to study and examine this phenomenon and are using technology such as Big Data to understand the psyche of today’s prosumers. According to a research, around 22 percent of the Fortune 100 companies have already appointed a CCO to try and form deep personal relationships with the company’s customers in order to truly understand them.
Firms have had to address this and innovate accordingly to keep their customers loyal and satisfied. The methods that they have employed includes tailored marketing, one-to-one customer service, building brand loyalty, providing information customers actually want and even subscription billing and rewards.
In addition, the rapid use and reach of ICTs have caused multiple industries to intersperse, causing producers to refocus on their customers’ demands above all else. The smart homes project in California by a leading Japanese car maker is an example on the evolving nature of consumer-producer relationships and diversification within the automobile and energy sectors. Through a smart home project, the car maker demonstrated its ideas on living a zero-carbon life in the 21st century. Investments in sectors such as sustainable development, renewable energy and smart systems have helped the car maker in reaching out to more customers in the automobile sector, benefiting all stakeholders.
Going forward, with the advent of the Internet and new age media channels, an informed consumer or prosumer is poised to tilt the balance of power away from big businesses towards the ordinary consumer.
How do you think that the rise of prosumers will affect various industries in the current global scenario? Do you believe that there has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which you procure goods or services?
Please leave your comments in the section below.