A friend recently linked an article, Identifying, Knowing and Retaining Your Customers, which talks about marketing towards the prosumer, not the consumer. The person who cares about what s/he’s buying, how its impacted the Earth, where it comes from, the company’s ethics, etc. I’d describe myself as a prosumer and in my daily job, I marketed online to the prosumer, instead of consumer.
Prosumer marketing is interesting as it’s almost the opposite of consumer. It’s specialization vs Wal-Martization.
The consumer wants a pack of 24 women’s athletic socks for $15 at Wal-Mart. S/he cares about prices and quantity. There also might be some attachment to jingles, logos, and brilliantly worked tag lines to cue up the buying instinct. I see the consumer as two different types of people:
The self-server consumer who straight up doesn’t care as long as s/he is getting the best deal. This is the mindless consumer who sometimes buys just to have stuff and has the income or credit lines to do it. The ones who buy disposable diapers and is never going to think twice; it’s convenient, cheap, easy, and always available.
The low-income consumer who’s more concerned about keeping food on the table and a roof over his/her family’s head than fair trade, being green, or shopping locally. This is not just the person buying from Wal-Mart, but likely the one who works for Wal -Mart too. At the current federal minimum wage, the low-income consumer must work 2.5 hours to buy that pack of women’s athletic socks.
On the other hand, the prosumer is the one who looks into the quality of the product, how it’s going to be use, where it’s made, and/or who made it being concerned about fair trade, being green, being organic, and/or shopping local. Different prosumers have different ideals and may mix and match. Lifestyle marketing works wonders on this crowd. A prosumer is usually willing to pay a higher price tag in order to achieve some quality of product.
For instance, when I went to buy an mp3 player, instead of buying a 2 MB generic one for $60, I bought the 160 GB video iPod for around $360 as I knew I would be using it a lot, needed a lot of space, possibly to watch video if flying somewhere, and know Apple not only pioneered the technology, but has good customer support. I’m a web designer, a geek, of course, my tech is going to match my lifestyle.
As a prosumer, I’m a big fan of specialization in the marketing and how e-commerce has greatly helped it out. If I want to know anything about any company, I get online. I look at the company’s web site, product information, and what other people are saying about that company. It’s way more exciting and hopeful than the Wal-Martization of everything.
I might work for a company, which is owned by another one that utilizes Wal-Martization to the extreme, but I can comfort myself with knowing that my job is to market to the person who perhaps cares about something besides bulk pricing and convenience. It’s more creative and stimulating than sticking giant yellow stars with new markdown prices on every graphic I make. (Been here, done that.)
Personally, I want to invest in a product that lasts. I want a product that’s being sold locally or manufactured by a smaller company. I want something that’s green and maybe recycled. I don’t want to feel dirty for what I prosume . I want something that speaks to me. I have no interest in 24 pairs of athletic socks; I would never use them or want them around. They’d end up in my Goodwill donation bag.
I haven’t bought something from a Wal-Mart in something like 7 years, even if my mother, who’s a bit of mix of the self-server and low-income consumer currently, likes to drag me into one when I visit her. I hope as globalization expands and more people have access to free trade and the prosumer voices will be loud enough to equality the marketplace.