In fact, they demand all that. Thanks to crowdsourcing platforms and new manufacturing technologies that are finally tipping into the mainstream (and a cult of entrepreneurialism at large), consumers are increasingly PRESUMERS; able to satisfy those demands through engagement with products and services pre-launch*.
Whether it's all about the perfect product, or the excitement of being a passionate supporter, PRESUMERS love to get involved with, push, fund, and promote products and services before they are realized.
* Obviously consumer involvement in products and services pre-launch has been building for years. Think co-creation / CUSTOMER-MADE which is still an active trend. But a consumer engaging in co-creation is often looking to showcase his or her own design or marketing talent, while PRESUMERS are primarily about getting what they want – ideally a great product AND an amazing STATUS STORY – by getting involved early.
So why will PRESUMERS be more numerous, more relevant, more active, and more powerful in the coming years? Here are five drivers turning consumers into PRESUMERS:
Consumers in developed economies face choice-saturation. Their response? Worshipping the cult of NEWISM, with its (legitimate) promise of newer, more, better, special, faster and so on.
The ultimate in NEWISM? Consuming in the future tense. No wonder PRESUMERS are coming together around pre-launch products or services they love: by helping to make a product become a reality through funding and feedbacking and supporting, they will be the first to have it – preferably with added perks – when it is finally realized. It doesn't get more 'newer' or 'FIRSTISM' than that.
Status has always been THE driver deep at the heart of all consumer behavior. When PRESUMERS connect with a pre-launch product or service, and support that project towards launch, it makes for a great STATUS STORY to tell, tweet, post, and otherwise share.
So, PRESUMING puts consumers one step ahead: not only the status of having the right product, but also the status of having been involved pre-launch.
STATUS STORIES are even more potent if they’re not simply about a great product or service, but about a broader movement or cause that the consumer believes in, providing a sense of belonging that goes beyond the thrill of possession.
Now, many PRESUMERS are passionate about the products they support, which is why Kickstarter (for example) can claim that a product idea is eight times more likely to be fully funded on Kickstarter than sold and successfully launched through a US corporation.
It also helps explain how US-based Razoo, an early crowdfunding platform focused on non-profits, announced in August 2012 that it had hit USD 100 million raised for projects it hosted on the site.
Consumers LOVE online because when it comes to online consumption, they can act (participate, talk, create, adjust) to get what they want. Now, they expect the same from 'offline' consumption.
The pre-launch engagement that defines PRESUMING facilitates that kind of dialogue. PRESUMERS don’t just pre-buy: they also buy into a two-way relationship in which they get to express their desires, and brands get valuable, early feedback.
And thanks to the 2012 Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act – US legislation that eases several federal financial regulations, and for the first time allows unaccredited small investors / consumers to buy equity in startups – PRESUMERS in the US can in the near future purchase equity in the projects they support. That’s how quite a few PRESUMERS will actually become CUSTOWNERS, too. How big could this get? Well, if US citizens would invest one tenth of what they gamble each year, that would equate to USD 55 billion (Source: Fundable, September 2012) ;-) Other countries to follow soon?
A platform for PRESUMERS has been building steadily in the biz world, thanks to the popularity of crowdfunding* and the MAKE IT YOURSELF movement, and to the cult of entrepreneurialism at large.
First, some crowdfunding stats:
* Now, we need to talk INTENT here, too: while PRESUMERS is about brands/business stating their plans for new products and consumers responding, INTENT is about consumers stating their desires or purchasing intentions, and brands responding. You can think of INTENT and PRESUMERS as two sides of the same coin: brands and customers talking to each other before products and services are launched.
On to MAKE IT YOURSELF, and rampant entrepreneurialism: first of all, there's a new generation of small-time makers who are using technologies such as 3D printing to manufacture products, that just a few years ago, could only roll off factory lines.
The cost of an industrial printer has fallen dramatically, from around USD 800,000 in 1999, to around USD 15,000 today (Source: The Economist, September 2012). Home versions now cost around USD 1,000 (Source: The Economist, September 2012). Meanwhile, research firm Wohlers Associates says the market for 3D printed products is currently worth USD 1.3 billion a year; they estimate it will rise to USD 3.1 billion by 2016, and USD 5.2 billion by 2020. A sign of the times? In October leading 3D printing platform Shapeways – which provides 3D printing services to its community of designers and PRESUMERS – opened its Factory of the Future in Long Island City, New York. The 25,000 square foot site will host 30 to 50 3D printers, and will have capacity to print 3 to 5 million objects annually.
Add to this the by now countless number of online entrepreneurs and innovators (TEENPRENEURS anyone?), and you're looking at a true avalanche of small and big initiatives that will forever look for funding from 'the people', while appealing to those who want the chance to connect with a 'special' product before launch. Indeed, not only do makers allow PRESUMERS to connect with that special product, they let them tailor it to their individual specifications. How's that for the Long Tail of physical objects? ;-)
As you’ll see in the examples below, PRESUMERS are drawn from all over the world and they’re passionate about all kinds of products and services.
But it’s still possible to draw up a bit of a profile, based on September 2012 data on Kickstarter users by Quantcast:
In other words, PRESUMERS are mainstream consumers. If a little better educated than usual ;-)
Remember, more consumers are becoming PRESUMERS every day: we'll keep tracking the evolution of the PRESUMER profile, and you should too!
Now, on to the hands-on stuff. Here are just a few examples – drawn from all over the world – of how businesses are already catering to PRESUMERS. Divided into: mass crowdfunding platforms which allow all kinds of projects, niche crowdfunding platforms which focus on a specific type of project, and a number of other innovative PRESUMPTION businesses.
Probably the best known crowdfunding platform, US-based Kickstarter bills itself as the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for creative projects. Project creators post details of their project, stating a funding target and deadline. Projects are vetted by Kickstarter. Meanwhile, backers pledge money in return for a “reward”: typically a promise of the product or experience in question. From launch, only US residents were allowed by Kickstarter as project creators; in October 2012 the site also opened to UK-based project creators. Backers are only charged if the project achieves its target funding, and goes into production. Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from the funding total of successfully funded projects. By September 2012, Kickstarter had launched 73,065 successful projects (think the Pebble Watch, Elevation iPhone Dock, and Ouya Games Console), and helped successfully backed projects – ranging from technology, to design and fashion, to film and theatre – raise USD 377 million.
The Porthole is a glass infusion vessel designed by Martin Kastner of the Chicago-based Crucial Detail design studio. Intended to be used to make cocktails, salad dressings, tea, coffee and other infusions, the vessel was inspired by the shape of a submarine porthole, and the way such a porthole offers a, “window on to another world”. A small batch of Porthole vessels were handmade at Crucial Detail, before the design studio took to Kickstarter to raise funds for a first production run. On September 4 2012, funding closed: Crucial Detail had raised USD 736,112 from 4,270 enthusiastic PRESUMERS.
Sedition Wars is a horror-themed tactical board game from renowned game designer and figurine maker Mike McVey (Studio McVey). Although already an established name in the games world, in June 2012 McVey used crowdfunding to raise pre-production funds, and build a buzz around the game pre-launch. Sedition Wars raised USD 950,000.
Funded in June 2012 on Kickstarter, Roominate is a new, engineering-themed toy for girls. Motivated by the fact that fewer than 11% of engineers are women, toy startup Maykah designed a kit of wooden building pieces and circuit components with which a child can use her creativity to design, build, wire, and decorate her own unique interactive room. PRESUMERS who shared Maykah’s message of gender equality – and loved the toy – funded the product to the tune of USD 85,000.
Soon to launch, MATTER is a major new UK/US publication, focused on long-form journalism about science, technology and ideas. A community came together on Kickstarter to provide start-up funds, and also build a pre-launch buzz around the magazine. Benefits for these PRESUMERS will include meetings with the editorial team and life-time guaranteed subscription.
Singapore-based ToGather.Asia is the first Asian crowdfunding portal targeted at projects around the region. Launched in July 2012, the site allows creators to submit creative projects, which are approved by the site before being posted. Backers can pledge money to projects, in return for the promise of rewards.
In September 2012, four-piece Singaporean indie rock band Cashew Chemists successfully crowdfunded SGD 1135 from 40 backers on Togather.Asia, for the production of their debut album. Cashew Chemist’s eponymous debut will be released in Q4 2012.
Founded in May 2011 in Beijing, DemoHour is China’s first crowdfunding platform. Operating on the standard crowdfunding model, creators post projects that backers can pledge money to in return for rewards that include products, special experiences, and access to creators. DemoHour takes a 10% cut of funds pledged to successfully funded projects. By July 2012, 70 projects posted on DemoHour had hit their funding target.
In June 2012 notable Beijing bookshop the One Way Street Library raised USD 37,000 via DemoHour. The money was used to fund a business re-location to Solana, a centrally-located shopping complex popular as a spot for book launches and literary salons.
In February 2011 UK-based Crowdcube launched as “the world’s first equity crowdfunding platform”. Small businesses seeking investment can post on the site, and backers – who can invest as little as GBP 10 – become owners of equity in the companies they invest in. Crowdcube takes a 5% cut of all successful fundraising. By July 2012 it had raised GBP 3.7 million for 21 companies.
Companies that achieved investment via Crowdcube include UK-based Escape the City, an online platform that helps professionals make career transitions. In June 2012 Escape the City raised GBP 600,000 on Crowdcube in two weeks, and now hosts a community of over 87,000 professionals.
US-based Indiegogo was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Intially focused on film, the platform is now open to creative projects of all kinds, ranging from technology, to design, to community and charity projects. Indiegogo allows project creators anywhere in the world to post a project to the site, and projects are not vetted. Money pledged by backers is distributed to project creators immediately, and if a project does not reach its funding target it is up to project creators to refund their backers. Indiegogo takes a 4% funding total fee from successfully funded projects, and 9% from unsuccessful projects.
In October 2011, Free Bread Inc launched, offering fresh gluten, nut, soy and sugar free bread around New York City. The business was founded by celiac disease sufferer Karen Freer, and raised USD 10,771 in start-up funds on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.
Launched in Melbourne, Australia in August 2012, Who Gives a Crap is a new brand of toilet paper dedicated to building toilets in the developing world. Motivated by news that 2.4 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation, founder Simon Griffiths set out to create a use-every-day product that could help change this. Who Gives a Crap will give 50% of all profits to help build new toilets in the developing world, forever. The new brand turned to Indiegogo to raise funds and support. PRESUMERS embraced them, funding USD 50,000 of pre-sales in 50 hours.
Launched in May 2012, Fundable is a US-based equity crowdfunding platform for start-up companies. Fundable aims to take advantage of the 2012 JOBS Act legislation in the US, which for the first time will allow non-accredited investors to buy equity in start-ups. Implementation of the law will not be complete until January 2013; until then start-ups on Fundable may only offer “rewards”, such as products or experiences, to investors. Start-ups must provide a business pitch video, and are vetted by Fundable before being hosted on the site.
Successfully funded start-ups on Fundable include US-based Lulu Blossom, a new range of all-natural beauty and skincare products. Lulu Blossom raised USD 4,050 on Fundable in August 2012.
Launched in August 2011, Idea.me is Latin America’s leading crowdfunding platform. In August 2012 the Argentina-based site bought Brazilian competitor Movare, consolidating its market lead in Latin America. In its first year, the site grew from an initial base of 250 users to 25,000 users, and 70 project backers to 5,000.
Mi Huerto Urbano is a Mexico-based startup, offering a kit intended to allow anyone to create their own urban garden. The kit allows users to grow arugula, lettuce, basil, habanero peppers, strawberries and many spices. With busy city-dwellers in mind, the garden is designed to be low-maintenance: growers need only add water and nutrients once a week. By October 2012, Mi Huerto Urbano had raised USD 7,000 of its USD 17,000 funding target on Idea.me.
Launched in October 2010, US-based Rock The Post combines crowdfunding and social networking, allowing consumers to form communities around a start-up business, and provide funds, time and advice, or materials in return for rewards. Users can also follow one another, and share details on the projects they are supporting.
Villy Custom, from Dallas, Texas, is on a mission to bring fashion to the bicycle. Aiming to change the way consumers see and purchase bikes, Villy Custom will allow customers to design their “dream bicycle” online, for assembly in Dallas. In September 2012 Villy Custom reached their USD 10,000 funding target on Rock the Post.
US-based RocketHub is a crowdfunding platform open to creators anywhere in the world. Projects submitted can take financial pledges from “fuelers”, who receive perks if their chosen project achieves its funding target. Fuelers can also vote for a project to be put forward for “Launchpad Opportunities”: these are business and marketing assistance schemes offered by RocketHub, such as a chance to work with leading publicists.
The Stinger 2 running shoe from US-based Spira Footwear is a lightweight running trainer containing Spira’s special WaveSpring technology. The sole of the shoe contains two small springs in the forefoot and one in the heel: Spira claim this ensures the shoes cushion impact, and return energy more effectively than any other trainer on the market. According to Spira, runners wearing the original Spira trainer won over 150 marathons and major races internationally. The Stinger 2 is currently crowdfunding on RocketHub, and by early October had exceeded its USD 25,000 goal, having raised USD 36,160.
New-York based Lucky Ant claims to be the world’s first hyper-local crowdfunding site. The site – which aims to let consumers help shape the consumer landscape in their area – features one local business a week for consumers to fund and support. Users of the site can pledge money to their chosen business, in return for rewards such as free products, and VIP access to stores.
Pie Corps is an artisanal pie company that sells quality, handmade sweet and savoury pies. In April 2012 the company raised USD 7,150 on Lucky Ant, using the money to fund the launch of their first retail location in Brooklyn. The store opened in June.
Launched in September 2012, Gambitious is a Netherlands-based crowdfunding site connecting devoted gamers to game developers. Gamers can support video game ideas, providing funds and helping to build a pre-launch buzz around their chosen games. Backers in Europe are also able to buy equity in their chosen game idea, turning them from PRESUMERS into CUSTOWNERS.
Tink, a third person action adventure game from German studio Mimimi Production, is set in a world in which everything is made of paper and glue. The game won the Game Connection Europe Best Project 2012 award. Mimimi Productions started seeking funding for Tink, and by September 2012 had raised EUR 20,700 of their EUR 350,000 target. Mimimi Productions no doubt hope to follow in the footsteps of San Francisco-based games developers Double Fine Productions, who in March 2012 raised USD 3.3 million on Kickstarter for their new point-and-click adventure game, Double Fine Adventure.
Launched in March 2012, Jakarta-based Wujudkan is a crowdfunding platform focused on creative projects in Indonesia. The site calls on Indonesian creative talents to post their projects, which backers can fund by pledging money in return for rewards such as special access to live performances, and credits on finished work. In May 2012, film project Atambua 39° Celsius, posted by renowned director Rira Riza, raised USD 32,000 on Wujudkan. The film tells the story of two Atambua refugees.
Launched in April 2012, New-York-based AppStori is a niche crowdfunding and collaborative development platform for smartphone apps. The site takes the standard crowdfunding model and injects more interaction between consumers and makers. App lovers can search for and fund the apps they want; and also make connections with developers to help shape pre-launch ideas, provide feedback on beta versions, and build pre-launch communities around their favourite apps.
Launched August 2012 after achieving its USD 2,000 funding target on Appstori, US-based Trivi.al is a new trivia-based social game for iPhone. Users compete against one another to answer three rounds of trivia questions, and can compare their “IQ Score” with other players. The app achieved 30,000 downloads during its first 30 days after release.
Launched in August 2012, Offbeatr is an LA-based crowdfunding platform for the adult entertainment industry. Project directors can post details of proposed adult content, which backers can support by pledging money in return for rewards. All proposed projects must have a reward. Digital downloads available for users are optional, should the project be successfully funded and go into production.
The Importance of Being Open is a 22 minute 'dramedy' about a poly-amorous relationship, currently seeking USD 10,000 on Offbeatr. The project creator claims his intention is to produce a film that is sexually explicit, but also contains compelling characters.
Launched in September 2012, Hong Kong based ZAOZAO bills itself “Your social pretailer”. The new online platform allows fashion designers to post pre-launch products and get funds for production via the site’s community of fashion-loving crowdfunders.
In July 2012 US-based App.net founder Dalton Caldwell wrote a blog post entitled “What Twitter Could Have Been”. The positive response prompted him to found App.net, a new, subscription-only, ad-free social network in which users own and control all their content and data. App.net ran its own crowdfunding campaign to raise starting capital, and in the process built an enthusiastic founding community, significant online buzz, and mainstream media attention. By August 2012 – App.net’s self-imposed funding deadline – the site had raised over USD 800,000 from over 12,000 backers. The network is now open, and membership is USD 36 for one year.
Launched in February 2012, Cut on Your Bias, is an online platform where fashion designers are invited to post product ideas. Site users are then able to gather around posted concepts, customize designs, and vote on their favorites. The most popular customized designs go into production and are made available to buy through the site: lucky PRESUMERS who voted for the winning designs are entitled to a 25% discount on the sale price.
Founded in June 2012, music community and pre-selling platform US-based ZIIBRA aims to let up-and-coming and established musicians connect with fans. In the week before release, artists can upload their new music to ZIIBRA – tagline “Play it forward” – and make it available for pre-sale. The more fans who pre-buy the album, the lower the price becomes for everyone: turning fans who have pre-bought into a community motivated to to become ambassadors for the album, share their discovery, and persuade others to buy.
Launched in Sept 2012, US-based Makeably, is a new marketplace for custom-made designed objects. Buyers can search through designs in categories ranging from clothes and shoes, to toys, to household goods. Once they have settled on a design, a purchaser can then communicate with the designer to make customization requests, and settle on a price and a delivery date. The designer is then responsible for manufacture and delivery of the item.
Denmark-based MUUSE host designs from the world’s top fashion schools — with a focus on premium and hand-crafted clothing — for users to vote on. Users can express their interest in designs exhibited in the “Concept” area of the website, and the designs that receive the most votes are sent for manufacture, and become available to buy as limited editions through the site.
No, not every consumer will want to be a PRESUMER, and those who do want to be one, don’t necessarily want to be one all the time. The mass markets of the future will still be those of zero-consumer-effort-required products and services.
But PRESUMERS have opened the lid on a new kind of consumer experience, one that revolves around getting the best and most relevant products and services, and/or the status that comes with involvement (from self-serving to serving the greater good), and the lid is not going to be put back.
Need / want to get going with PRESUMERS yourself? Why not:
Basically, add PRESUMERS to your vocabulary, embrace PREDUCTION, not just production, consider becoming a PRETAILER, and get going!
Meanwhile, we’re getting ready to publish our 10 Trends for 2013 Trend Briefing (free!) so make sure you (pre-)subscribe!