a prosumer selling makeup

Prosumers and the Media

What are Prosumers?

Consumers collaborate with companies all the time. You clear your table at a fast-food restaurant, add your own personal message to greeting cards, get your surname printed on the back of your team’s jersey, use your own 3-D printer, buy your groceries at the self-service checkout, or choose the specifications for your new phone by using an app.

Producers and consumers are often viewed as separate identities, but customers are increasingly demanding mass-produced goods and services are personalised to suit their needs, so we participate in the design and production process to achieve these customisations. Coined by Alvin Toffler (1980), prosumer draws attention to this blurring of roles between the producer and consumer.

Although the concept of prosumer is usually associated with economics, in terms of media, bloggers and vloggers are able to use websites, such as Medium and YouTube, to host their content which is often based on other media products.

Further Reading

Henry Jenkins refers to participatory culture in his exploration of textual poachers. It is also worth considering his definition and descriptions of fandoms because these subcultures engage very closely with media products to help construct their identity.

If you are interested in learning more about the economics of prosumption, this article is a useful place to start: Mass Customization: The new path for luxury industry?

Toffler, A. (1980): “The Third Wave”.

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