Week 6 Blog: Net Generation Consumers or “Prosumers” in the 21st Century

Grown Up Digital Tapscott

Chapter 7 of Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital reminds me of a recent discussion my husband and I had.  He and I are slightly older that the Net Generation Consumer, but we still relate to some of the ideas discussed in chapter 7.  I took my husband out to purchase a new TV for him.  I was hoping to surprise him and I think I did.  We went to Best Buy and began looking at televisions.  He told me what he was looking for and after a half hour or so we left, without a TV.  I was a little bummed because I really wanted to get a TV for him.  He explained that he really hadn’t researched what he wanted and what was out there.  He wanted to compare different pricing options and different televisions that would best fit our family.  He also really did not want to listen to all the employees at Best Buy tell him about which TV is best; My husband wanted to go into Best Buy or another store already educated on what he might have purchased.

Tapscott discusses how the “eight norms” of net generation consumers influence how they purchase products.  Similar to how my husband felt about purchasing a TV, Net Geners want to have the freedom of choosing a product; they do not want employees telling them which product is the “best fit”.  Net Geners “scrutinize” each product.  Asking questions like: “Is it the best product?”  “If so, is it the best product to fit my needs?” etc…  Net Geners are also looking for a company that has integrity.  Does the company back their products?  Net Geners turn to their friends for advice on different products and services by posting on Facebook.  For example, a recent post on my news feed read, “In Traverse City, know of any good places to eat dinner?”  Instantly this person had several replies from friends or friends of friends that had traveled to Traverse City.  Consumers don’t really need to purchase Consumer Report or call around to find a good place to eat.  Now, consumers have the internet which includes a large social network they can consult when purchasing goods or services.

Other norms Net Geners consider include: is it fun, can I collaborate with the company providing it to suggest improvements, also is it fast and are my communications with the company answered quickly.  The Net Generation represents a group of people who want more than just being a consumer; they want to be prosumers.  According to Alvin Toffler (1980), prosumers are “proactive consumers” or “common consumers who were predicted to each become active to help personally improve or design the goods and services of the marketplace, transforming it and their roles as consumers,” (as cited by en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Prosumer).


Not all Net Geners are “prosumers”.  Still, marketing professionals should be aware of several things when trying to attract the attention of the Net Generation.  Marketers need to focus on engaging consumers, creating a consumer experience(s), and come up with a strategy to plug into N’Fluence networks, just to name a few (Tapscott, 2008).

Palfrey and Gasser in Born Digital

In Born Digital Palfrey and Gasser discuss the copyright issues that go along with being a prosumer or someone who tries to personally improve or design the goods and services.  In instances like Napster and Grokster, the companies were sharing music online without paying much thought to copyright laws.  In the end both companies were shut down, but certainly people are still sharing music files online without paying for them.  If companies want to connect with the Net Generation “they will have to find a way other than through fear to reconnect with their customers,” (Palfrey and Gasser, 2010).  One way might be through something like iTunes.  iTunes doesn’t only offer music downloads; they also offer “audiobooks, podcasts, and ipod games, among other things” (144).  Personally, I enjoy being able to download one or two songs from an album rather than purchasing a cd with all the music.  Then I find myself only listening to those two songs I like and that gets old.  I also enjoy that I can move songs around in my library to create a nice running playlist.  I think Net Geners can relate because iTunes allows them to be creative and tailor their music to fit their needs.  iTunes also gives you the flexibility to look at different price options and the option to have DRM free music or Digital Rights Management System (Macworld Staff, 2009).  I have not looked at other programs but I am certain there are other companies that offer ways to download music.

As I look at the Net Generation as consumers I can’t help but think about how we should educate them and the coming generations.  In order to educate and reach out to the Net Generation we need to focus on some of the 8 norms mentioned by Tapscott.  Such as making our content for students engaging, fun, collaborative, and useful to them.  As educators we should be continuously learning about new technology and how to integrate it successfully into our classrooms.


Lesson ideas for Net Generation Consumers:

This particular website actually discusses the Next Generation as learners rather than the Net Generation, however I found myself continually coming back to this page to explore it more.  This site offers education on life insurance, health insurance, risk management with financial planning, and disability pay options when injuries make a person unable to work.  Each of these lessons offers information on things that might be of interest to students as they prepare to graduate high school or even college.  The site offers an intro. Video followed by lessons and worksheets.  There are also student resources and helpful links to help provide additional support and education.

Site: http://www.scholastic.com/nextgeneration/





Macworld Staff. (2009).  iTunes Store and DRM-free music: What you need to know.

               Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from http://www.macworld.com/article/1138000/drm_faq.html


Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.

               [On-line] Retrieved June 23, 2014 from:   http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8


Prosumer. Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from en.wikipdeia.org/wiki/Prosumer


Next Generation. (2014). Retrieved online June 23, 2014 from                http://www.scholastic.com/nextgeneration/


Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Growing Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.





2 thoughts on “Week 6 Blog: Net Generation Consumers or “Prosumers” in the 21st Century

  1. I thought the chapter in Tapscott’s book was very interesting this week. I found myself thinking about ways I have embraced some of the net gen behavior when it comes to consumerism. I approach purchases much like your husband did with Best Buy. I want to go into a store already knowing what I intend to purchase. Researching products has become a normal routine, especially when it pertains to high dollar items. Being a tool guy, I scour builder websites, handyman articles, woodworker forums, etc to find out as much as possible before going out and buying a tool. I couldn’t do this twenty or thirty years ago. I had to trust the salesperson to give me good advice. My kids at school do the same thing when they are thinking about purchasing things. They talk with friends about features they like, how well it works, and why they think the one they chose is the best. Most of the time, their opinions are very well informed. I used to rely on word of mouth when looking for good restaurants. My students were the ones who got me hooked on Yelp and Urban Spoon. My generation didn’t create this ability to thoroughly research things before purchasing. I have to thank people much younger for making this possible. I believe the ability to post opinions and reviews on company websites provides motivation for these companies to produce useful, quality products. If they don’t they’re going to hear about it and will lose business.

    Thanks for sharing the Scholastic.com resource. There’s a lot of useful things on that website. I made sure to add it to my online repository.

    • Even with technology improving I just deleted my entire reply….GRRRRRR! I hate when that happens.

      My husband introduced me to Urban Spoon. We wanted to try a restaurant in Anchorage that we hadn’t tried yet. After a little searching we found a Thai restaurant. The food was great and the atmosphere was good as well. So many restaurants are so loud now that you can’t even have a conversation; this restaurant was great because it was very cute.

      I like Scholastic. Sometimes they even offer free professional development options. I haven’t done any of these because quite frankly I haven’t had time with grad classes, but some of them seem like great topics.

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