Catering to the Growing Prosumer Market

A dealer’s client base is typically broken down into two broad types of customers: commercial and consumer. A growing segment of the consumer market, however, is the prosumer market. Prosumers, residential customers who prefer to run commercial-grade equipment, have become an increasingly important customer group, even to commercially focused dealers.

Image and Need = Opportunity

As landscape contractors feel the bite of rising operating costs, some are choosing to pass those costs onto their residential customers. As a result, some of those customers are choosing to start doing their own yard work again.

For some prosumers, the decision is based on need. For others, it’s about image. “I have the people who know what they need and are willing to pay for it, and then I’ve got the people who come in after seeing the commercial guys riding around and want to try the same equipment,” explains Jason Howell of Central Outdoor Power Equipment in Baton Rouge, LA. “It’s more of a recent trend in our area.”

Meeting Prosumer Needs

Whatever the reason, more and more dealers and manufacturers are tapping into the growing market. Selling to the prosumer market brings in a large sale—but not with a lack of effort. Selling to the prosumer means attracting them with mid-level equipment options as well as services and financing that meet their needs.

The prosumer’s service needs are similar to that of the traditional consumer. However, the prosumer is looking for something more from their equipment: durability and performance. “We saw a change at the end of the 2007 season where a lot of our customers were asking about heavier-duty units that would hold up longer than the mass merchant units they were used to,” says Al McLean of Hope Mills Saw & Mower in Hope Mills, NC. “They shop the lines of equipment that offer heavier-duty units at a reasonable price.”

McLean walks his customers through the differences in units so they can choose which level of equipment is right for them. Offering financing on these larger, more expensive units helps make the purchase more manageable.

Marketing these equipment and financing options directly to the prosumer will help bring them through your doors.

Building a Relationship

When a prosumer comes in to buy equipment that greatly exceeds the quality of what they would find in a big box store, they expect that piece of equipment to last a long time. Thus, more money is to be made when they return for ongoing maintenance and repairs.

Prosumer service needs are not as demanding as commercial cutters, but prosumers may expect more than the regular consumer customer might. “They are not as demanding as the commercial cutters, because they don’t cut grass but one time a week,” explains McLean. “Their main concern is that if they spend that extra money for the equipment, they should be able to get parts and service without having to take it all over town like they had to do with their mass merchant units.” The prosumers want to save the time and money they previously wasted maintaining their lower-end equipment.

As Howell explains it, the prosumer service requirements are not necessarily a need, but more of an expectation. “Most prosumers don’t want to do their own service, but with the perception that they are moving up into a higher-quality machine, they expect the service to follow that,” says Howell. “They are not as demanding as a commercial cutter, but they do feel that they have moved up the ladder and their service expectation has done the same.”

With consumer confidence down, some dealers feel the prosumer market may shrink this year. Others expect a growth spurt as more homeowners begin doing their own lawn maintenance. Regardless, spending some time and money to attract this growing market will likely pay big dividends—either now or in the future.