What is a Prosumer?

Prosumers have bridged the gap between those who can prepare simple meals and those who are trained as professional chefs.

The concept of the prosumer is a late 20th century idea that combines some of the common characteristics of a professional and a consumer. The term is generally applied to situations where consumers are considered to have reached a level of sophistication that the professional-consumer can effectively dictate the perimeters of production of goods and services in terms of quality and structure. The difference between the garden variety consumer and the end consumer is that the latter typically has such a strong working knowledge of the product that he can successfully determine and perhaps even design a better product offering.

Prosumers are now commonplace in many fields that were once the exclusive property of professionals. One of the areas where the prosumer has gained a high degree of visibility is in the home improvement industry. A number of household tasks such as installing ducts, plumbing, hanging wallpaper and installing major appliances are now performed by many homeowners. In the past, all of these roles were considered the work of professionals, with only the occasional amateur attempting this type of high-end work.

Cooking is another area where hobbyists have become more proficient. As a result, prosumers now bridge the gap between people who prepare simple meals for the home and people who are trained as professional chefs. One of the avenues that allow hobbyists to expand the level of culinary education is cable television. Since the medium became widely available in the late 1970s, many people have been exposed to the preparation of dishes that were normally only available in upscale restaurants. The result has been the creation of a large audience of prosumer enthusiasts who delight in expanding their culinary skills without necessarily thinking about making a living in the industry.

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The combination of affordable computer technology and the Internet has also made it possible for the prosumer to take a place in the publishing world. Thanks to software programs and high-quality printing materials and equipment, the prosumer can now produce hard copies and electronic magazines about their favorite hobby or interest. Desktop publishing also enables these highly skilled hobbyists to produce high-quality greeting cards, promotional brochures and a wide variety of published materials. Even beginning writers can be classified as prosumers, simply using current technology to produce an e-book for distribution.

The prosumer can also be associated with several other fields. Photography, interior design, and even the beverage industry have a number of people who qualify as prosumers. As technology continues to evolve, there is no doubt that the prosumer phenomenon will continue to grow.

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