The rise of the co-sumer

In an ever evolving economy, we are constantly monitoring patterns of consumer behaviour and brand activity. In our latest 'viewpoint' we have explored the shift in consumption of consumer goods.

18.06.15 | Research

By Tim Sharp

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Manufacturers have, for the last 60 years, built up a sophisticated set of tools to bring their products to market. Advertising, marketing, branding and loyalty schemes have pushed a way of doing things through our high streets, our TVs, our radios, newspapers, magazines and letterboxes. Yet something has changed. Our high streets are in decline, newspapers are struggling to engage us, magazines have become niche, the broadcasters are not quite as broad or influential as they once were. There is one common root cause to the change. The internet.

Through a direct relationship to the people who produce things, we now have tailored products, services and experiences that we pull into our lives, the way we want them. 9-5 is now 24-7. ‘Daily’ news programmes have become live Twitter feeds. Trend magazines have become Pinterest boards. The consumer is evolving into something new. The pull economy created by Web 2.0 is giving rise to the co-creative and coproducing consumer.

What we are seeing is the rise of the ‘Co-sumer.’

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“The word consumer is old fashioned and almost demeaning. It assumes complacency, lethargy and a one-way top down means of communication. A subservient relationship from producer to buyer.” Hegarty

There has been a rapid shift in consumer behaviour in the UK. People are still consuming, but the way they’re consuming has changed – moving towards quality, experience and purpose beyond price. In our paper we explore some of the drivers for this shift and how they have effected how we behave. As a result, today, we believe value has a different meaning - The key to happiness isn’t consuming more, its consuming better. For the ‘Co-sumer’ better means products which have sharing, creation, purpose and quality in their DNA.

The term ‘consumer’ suggests passively receiving a ready-made product or service, but people want far more than that.

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Technology has enabled people to interact instantly with brands, from customisable products to social media. We explore the world from our smartphones, design our own products and start challenger brands from our living rooms. We’re no longer limited by what’s currently available.

91% of consumers said they wanted a hand in the design and development process. (Edelman, 2013)

In addition to purchasing, the Co-sumer is sharing, renting and creating. Environmental and social awareness means they would rather invest in authentic, quality products that make them feel good, not guilty. As a result for the Co-sumer, brands need a purpose beyond price to satisfy their needs. 

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Low price and quantity used to be the main drivers. Now, people are pushing back against the ‘throwaway’ culture – with 87% of people searching for brands with purpose that goes beyond price. (World Federation of Advertisers, 2014)

You can read more about the shift from consumer to Co-sumer in our 'viewpoint' paper. What the key drivers have been that have caused this shift, how the Co-sumer thinks and the relationship they want with brands. 

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Click the thumbnail to download a pdf version, or email Stephen Ardern: for a physical copy.

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