Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Transumers.....the "moving" consumer

The term Transumer was first used back in 2003 and explored how accessibility to travel globally has had an impact on consumerism. Transumer is a trend that focuses on "consumers in transition, i.e. travelers, and the many novel and innovative shopping opportunities at airports, train stations and hotels catering to this crowd." Travel opened the doors for consumers to get that one unique item that your friends couldn't find at home.

My husband and I have travelled quite a bit around the world throughout the years. To this day we still look for items to bring home with us. Do we have anymore room for these items....probably not. Do we need another wood carving....probably not....but the urge is there to find something to bring home that will capture the experience we had in our travels. "Transumers are consumers driven by experiences instead of the ‘fixed’, by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions."

Airport shops and kiosks used to be the last chance to buy something. Products available were quite often cheapish souvenirs. Not anymore.

I was just recently in Singapore (shopping like a good little transumer) and found better deals on some tech items that I was looking for in the shops at the Singapore airport than in the stores in Singapore. Today, you can find quite unique products and services available in the airport stores around the world....some even rival shopping centres. There are gymnasiums for a traveller to fit in a workout, spas to help revitalize you, and every type of food to save you from the airline meals you may get served. Many of the airports now have free Internet stations for travellers along the corridors leading to your departure gates.

The transumer definition is evolving to include concepts such as: luxury, transient, shorter satisfaction span, collective consumer....... Consumers want and want now. They are quick to purchase the "next" trend (dare I say we have 4 different iPods in the house with only 2 consumers that live here.) Look at the craze that the new iPhone by Apple has caused. It is due to be released on the 29th of June in the USA only.....people have not even touched one yet but interviews shown on TV last night proclaimed that all must have one. Many of my friends have 2 0r 3 mobile phones.....why? Gone are the days of a 1 car family. Almost every adult in a household owns a vehicle. How many televisions are in your house? How many computers?

Virtual Transumer

The consumer possibilities on the web seem to have replicated and encouraged the transumer trend. This has become more obvious to me since I have moved to New Zealand from Canada. I never thought twice about the choice I used to have to a variety of products. I could also easily drive or fly (very cheaply) to another province in Canada or down to the USA for even more variety. Not as easy to do when you live in a country surrounded by water that is faaaaaar away from any other country. Web access has allowed the transumer community to expand....now the world is at your finger tips...virtually.

Websites such as Shop any American Store act as your "US postal address" so you can shop from literally any American based store online and they will compile it all and ship it to you (there is a fee for this and check out with customs what your total is to import before you get hit with duty). There are many similar web services to access goods from countries around the world.

Amazon.com was probably one of the first big companies to offer worldwide consumerism. Web services like these allow consumers to have access to items they previously could only access by flying to that country and shopping at the store.

Honourable mention to businesses like ebay and TradeMe. What better way for a transumer to get rid of the old....

You can even buy products you will never be able to touch or hold....and many do just that in SecondLife. With your linden currency you can purchase virtual islands, virtual designer wardrobes for your virtual self....I think I need a cup of coffee....but make mine a real one :)

I guess the question to ask.....do we need all this STUFF? As marketing and ad agencies know worldwide....the want is greater than the need and in a digital world it is easier to access the want.

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