Proactive consumers


Proactive consumers are those who are a section of consumers who are no longer part of a passive market upon which industry dumps consumer goods but who are an intrinsic part of the creative process.

Customer-led innovation is inevitable, most marketers and advertisers aver citing the rush of hobbyist-hackers to improve everything from Legos to computers to solutions to arrest hair fall.

Product champions

On an average a proactive consumer or for brevity ‘Prosumer’ will peak to nine people, compared to a consumer who will speak to two people about the same thing. They are human media, a powerful word-of-mouth brigade. They are brand evangelists, so to say.

The prosumer as defined above is a proactive consumer who is an enthusiastic outlet of sorts, who goes out of his way to promote the brand he likes. He becomes the product champion, an evangelist of sorts.

Trend spotters

Prosumers are of particular value to marketers looking to anticipate future trends. They are an early warning system about consumer next and a true conversational currency. For the marketing giant, they are an important enough category to be studied.

And for marketers, they both reflect and shape markets. Being highly communicative, they pickup what others are thinking and reflect it through the lens of their own experiences. And, being interested in innovation, they gather information widely.

They could be jostling in the malls, arcades and stores, foraging for bargains, discounts and promotional offers.

Today’s consumers cannot just be propositioned; they need in a brand a promise of sustained tenure of togetherness.

He goes on to add that a brand must be good to cohabit with; it must create that space where brand prosumers can keep each other company.

Value plus

The change in stance is reflected clearly in cosmetics. There has been a distinct evolution in the offering, from where the product is simple (nail enamel, lipstick, skin cream, hair color) to the brand morphing into an institution. Pond’s as a brand is not just a solution that we can apply. Instead, it is a complete program in itself— the Pond’s Institute. Thus Pond’s is not just a skin cream or moisturizer for a basic need; it is a brand integrating product and service solution.

The idea to continue with the consumer offering and take it to the next level is that of the prosumer.

The evolution of the digital camera best illustrates the point. For ages, photography was considered an art form to be practiced only by the eccentric few who had loads of money to develop tons of film rolls too get those few treasured shots. Not any more.

Since its inception, digital photography has gained immense popularity. Major factors influencing trend were the case of handling and low running costs and these advantages were publicized by prosumers.

The idea was simple: break free from the clasp and clutter of manual cameras and embrace its more popular cousin, the digital camera.

Emotional connect

Advertising mavericks are now turning to emotions as a plank to cut across the clutter. A brand’s equity that is built over intangible parameters also takes a longer time and effort for a competitor to be able to neutralize.

The birth of many a great brand owes much to this idea. Like Marlboro Country, where the flavor is the outdoors, the ruggedness, the self-sufficiency and the solitude. The caring Nivea male, the Johnson& Johnson mom, the Six Sigma of Motorola, the Nike jogger are more such examples. Prosumers resent heavy-handed attempts to beat them into submission, preferring instead high-quality, entertaining advertising work. Good advertising flatters their well-developed sense of discernment.

Prosumers are the approximately 20-30% of people t the vanguard of consumerism. It is difficult to fool them. We have moved on to the next level in the consumer need ladder. With increasing product parity and technological equality, consumers are looking beyond a straightforward solution. Communication for more and more services utilizes functional benefits more as a support rather than as a driver.

In times to come, the consumer will not be content with riding pillion. They will want to actively drive and shape the market.