Digital and the new consumer: Emerging paths to purchase

The year 2001 was pivotal for Havas Worldwide: It was the year we started tracking an emerging cohort we call Prosumers. These smart, proactive shoppers were among the most enthusiastic adopters of new technologies, and they were well ahead of the curve in using newly available digital tools to gain an edge at retail.

We had survived the projected chaos of the Y2K bug (remember that?) and had made it through the great dotcom bust of 2000 with our faith in the prospects and potential of the World Wide Web relatively unscathed. During that period, Internet adoption was beginning to move rapidly beyond the United States and other developed markets into the far reaches of the rest of the world. (For the first time, the US accounted for less than half of web traffic – 45 percent.) We issued trend reports that detailed all the latest developments: smart homes! Interactive TV! Telecommuting! And, most especially, we talked about what was happening – and was likely to happen – in e-tail/e-commerce/cybershopping. Online commerce was taking hold, despite the fact that only 4 percent of US households had broadband access at the time.