What’s a Prosumer and Are You One?
The Rise of the Modern Consumer
May 7, 2018, Spencer Phade
There has been an increasing trend for products and services to be adaptable or customizable to customers specific needs or preferences. With many types of products, it has even become the norm for consumers to expect, and even demand, some degree of customization if they are to consider purchasing. This has given rise to the age of the prosumer.
What’s a Prosumer and Are You One?
This trend has been called the rise of “prosumerism”, which is defined by the consumer taking part in the design process of the services or products consumed. It can also be classified as blending the line between producer and consumer.
One of the driving forces behind this trend is consumer demand. People, specifically in the technology industry, have been increasingly demanding more control over, and impact on, the development of their own services.
Now, mass customization has been around for many years. A common example of this is in clothing. If you ever went to a school or played on a sports team where you received a custom sweater or track suit, that is mass-customization at work. It was this demand for customization of products that formulated one of the early concepts that is now prosumerism.
But nowadays, this concept has expanded far beyond a few sweaters and tracksuits.
And, depending on the industry, prosumer has a number of different and more specific distinctions.
One of the most common examples to date of prosumers are highly involved hobbyists and the Do-It-Yourself approach. These are consumers who are more independent and self-sufficient with sometimes even near professional level needs from the goods and services they consume. One of the most recent examples of this is the rise of the 3-D printing industry and community.
A second relates more to the digital world. The open source software movement is a prime example of prosumers. Where people are able to collaborate, share, and build on what others have created. This is generally all done for free as well.
The line between consumers and producers is fully blended here when a community collaborates and builds products and services for their own communal use. Some of the most successful examples of this are the operating system Linux and statistics software R.
A third type of prosumers comes from the energy industry. Depending on where you live, you might have already seen some people placing solar panels on the roofs of their homes. These people are one of the newest forms of prosumers and companies are already jumping on the trend.
Tesla recently reported that their first “Solar Roof” customer installation was up and running and already feeding power back into the grid as well as the personal “Power Wall”. This idea of consumers also producing their own power has the potential to revolutionize how we power our cities and homes in the future. But of course, these are just a few examples of prosumers at work, and there are undoubtedly many more.
Constant advancements in technologies and production techniques are making it more and more possible to provide a greater level of customization for consumers. At the same time, consumers are wanting to have more power over the types of products and services they spend their hard-earned money on.
These two driving forces mean that the concept of prosumerism has the possibility to continue to grow and expand to new industries every year and give consumers a greater say than ever before.
So I challenge you to stop and think for a moment, where in your life are you a prosumer?
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