Global prosumers are best defined as the 25 to 28 percent of consumers who regularly make or break products and brands, or create market shifts. The prosumer thinks differently than Baby Boomers when making buying decisions — research shows it takes only a small number, approximately two to three percent of global prosumers, to create a new trend worldwide and generate the marketing buzz that can make your commercial effort a boom or a bust.
Prosumerism is powered by connectivity and interactivity and, in turn, drives developments to extend both.1 In 1996, 50 million people worldwide were digitally connected. A decade later, the number of digitally-connected people had grown to 1.2 billion. Given this level of growth, it is quite likely that by early next decade, one out of every three people on earth — well over 2 billion individuals — will be globally connected.2
A Loyal Prosumer?
Prosumers revel in options, and want to feel they are doing the smart thing. What’s smart depends on the context and the individual, but typically means being well informed, knowing what’s available and checking out the opinions of others.3 When it comes to consumption, prosumers regard low prices as smart, unless they’re trumped by better value for a higher price, where value includes elements such as customer service, design and brand.4 This makes the prosumer — your customer — choosy and fickle.
The old mantra of “earn a quick buck and earn a quick profit” no longer rings true. Prosumers’ loyalty has more to do with a company’s reputation, reliability and relationships than it does with marketing campaigns and advertising slogans.
Business Implications Of The Prosumer
The prosumer’s rise to power in the areas of pricing and customer services is a direct result of connectivity. In the area of customer service, this connectivity results in heightened expectations regarding the quality and time frame associated with customer-to-vendor contact.5 An instant is good, minutes are acceptable; maybe even hours, but a day just won’t cut it with today’s prosumers.
There is also an ever-expanding trend to view shopping not merely as the satisfaction of a consumer’s “needs,” but also as recreation and entertainment.6 From this recreational prosumer’s viewpoint, the need to tailor and customize the offering, price and value to each consumer is even more apparent. But simply offering more choices is not the entire equation; indeed, too much choice will make your prosumer unhappy.7
The Prosumer And The Communications Market
The prosumer in the communications market is highly likely to embrace broadband and new digital services (e.g., digital video). They are likely to buy a bundle of services from one company, but are also very likely to switch from one provider to another to get the best service or offer. Incumbent as well as emerging services providers should make the prosumer a segment of high focus, due to the prosumer’s willingness to switch providers as well as the high average revenue per customer.8
The Prosumer Demands A New Buying Experience
To reach prosumers in the communications market and win their business, service providers need to employ a new set of customer acquisition strategies. These strategies must work to increase and enhance the buying options the prosumer receives from the service provider including, but not limited to, more service and pricing options and an added number of customer interaction options (e.g., call center, Web self-care, retail site, etc.) Further, these strategies must support the fast and high quality service delivery requirements of the prosumer. To put it simply, the prosumer demands that service providers deliver an entirely new buying experience centered on customer personalization and buying convenience.
To deliver this new buying experience, a service provider should embrace five distinct offer management and customer acquisition strategies:
Creative offer management. Service providers who wish to address the prosumer segment should embrace an enterprise product catalog (ECP) strategy that weaves the product catalogs of customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), billing systems other similar operations systems into a single product catalog focused on facilitating offer and bundle design creativity as well as the rapid introduction of new service and bundle options.
Partner relationship management. The prosumer demands a service bundle with a rich mix of service options. To deliver this bundled experience, a service provider may need to integrate products and services provided by a host of business partners. For example, the launch of a broadband bundle with a new service capability based on mobile gaming technology may require the integration and synchronization of networks and ordering between a service provider and its gaming partner. This calls for service providers to employ partner relationship management systems and processes where multiple partners and supply chains can be integrated in the product development lifecycle and fulfillment lifecycle in order for a service provider to deliver the bundled experience.
Customer-centric sales experience. A prosumer’s decision to select a particular service provider is dominated by intangibles and not driven by technology alone. These intangible factors, which include convenience and personalized attention, work in combination to form an overall customer experience. Further, customers are increasingly impulsive and self-centered, willing to switch providers on a whim. Service providers must employ systems and processes designed to give customers immediate attention and satisfy their quick decision making, while simultaneously delivering customer personalization. This calls for service providers to use new business models to maximize value through the customer service lifecycle.
Multichannel customer interactions. To address the customer-centricity and personalization demanded by the prosumer, service providers must expand as well as enhance their multichannel sales and support capabilities. Prosumers want access to their account and to sales anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Service providers must embrace selling through multiple channels that can be tailored to support the unique experience the prosumer expects at each channel including call center, retail site, e-commerce site and resellers.
Bundled order management. Time is of the essence to the prosumer. Bundle orders must be delivered with full awareness of the prosumer’s aggressive time expectations. To meet these expectations, service providers must employ an order management solution that tightly orchestrates the fulfillment of multi-level, multi-line item service orders for bundled services across multiple fulfillment points that reside inside and outside the service provider’s enterprise.
Prosumers represent one of the faster growing and highest value segments in today’s communications market. By focusing on implementing four distinct offer management and customer acquisition strategies, a service provider can build the unique buying experience that addresses the characteristics of today’s prosumer. The result will be a service provider who is able to
gain a considerable share of this lucrative market segment.
Sterling Commerce (www.sterlingcommerce.com) has provided business process solutions to FORTUNE 500 companies and the world’s largest banks for over 30 years. Formerly a division of Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce became an independent corporation through an initial public offering in March 1996. SBC Communications acquired Sterling Commerce in March 2000. With the merger of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. in November 2005, Sterling Commerce became a subsidiary of AT&T Inc.
1. Twelve Key Prosumer Trends, Prosumer Pulse® 2004 –Anticipating Consumer Demands, Euro RSCG Worldwide.
3. Twelve Key Prosumer Trends, Prosumer Pulse® 2004 – Anticipating Consumer Demands, Euro RSCG Worldwide.
5. Euro RSCG Worldwide, Two Imperatives emerge as keys to successful marketing, October 18, 2001.
6. Consumer Insights Study of the Recreational Shopper, Their Demographics, Their Shopping Choices and Their Motivations to Shop, Recreational Shopping Report, 2006.
7. Twelve Key Prosumer Trends, Prosumer Pulse® 2004 – Anticipating Consumer Demands, Euro RSCG Worldwide.