Background & Objectives

Consumer Markets and Societal Trends

Every EU or indeed global citizen is ultimately a consumer and final consumption is the largest component of the European economy, representing 56.4% of EU GDP. While consumer spending can fluctuate both in absolute and relative (as percentage of GDP) terms, its long term general trend is positive, growing broadly in parallel with GDP. However, hidden below this general growth trajectory are a multitude of consumption and consumer trends driven by economic, political, societal, cultural, environmental and other factors. Some of these trends, usually referred to as fashions or fads, can be very erratic and often short-lived whereas others can be understood as truly secular long term trends fed by powerful durable drivers based on global political, economic or demographic developments.

Three such broad long-term societal trends which clearly have a wide impact on consumer behaviour and consumption patterns world-wide and which create enormous opportunities and challenges for the consumer goods industry have been singled out

These are:

  1. Safety and sustainability in production and consumption: powered by long-term economic, political and cultural drivers;

  2. Health, well-being and activity of an aging and individualising population: powered by long-term demographic and cultural drivers;

  3. Satisfying needs and desires of a growing global consumer class: powered by long-term political, economic and cultural drivers;

All these trends are further influenced by an ever greater availability and ease of access to deep information and knowledge about products leading to a “smarting up” of the consumer turning into a professional or even productive consumer who has increasing influence on product development, production or product-service processes – a concept embodied in the term “prosumer”.

The Design-based Consumer Goods Industry in Europe

The European designed-based Consumer Goods sector (incl. design, product development, manufacturing & distribution operations) represent a substantial and vibrant part of the European economy. While the borders between primarily design-driven versus primarily functionality driven consumer goods categories are not clearly demarcated, for the purpose of this project and the wider research collaboration initiative the following sectors are considered:

Textiles, clothing, leather and footwear products, sports goods, games and toys, interior products made of different materials such as furniture, sanitary products, floor, wall and window coverings, table and kitchen ware, glassware and spectacles, watches, jewellery, bags & accessories and various cosmetic and beauty products as well as the design-oriented packaging of these and other products.

Not considered will be primarily function-driven consumer goods categories such as motor vehicles, consumer electronics or white goods, although these also increasingly turn to design and emotion to add products value and achieve competitive differentiation.

The targeted industrial sectors represent a total annual turnover of approx. € 500 billion and economic value added of € 150 billion while employing some 5 million people in more than 500,000 companies across the EU-27. 

Objectives of the European Consumer Goods Research Initiative

The objectives and expected benefits of this initiative for the industrial and academic research communities connected to the design-based consumer goods sector are manifold and can be clustered into 2 main stages: (1) building a European-wide network and agreeing on a common priorities and (2) implementing joint action.

 The first stage – networking and roadmapping - comprises:

  • Creating mutual awareness and facilitating contacts, building trust

  • Collecting and generating data and knowledge valuable for the entire community at EU level

  • Encouraging and organising knowledge exchange and other forms of community interaction

  • Joint priority setting, roadmapping and action plan development

The second stage – joint implementation actions – include

  • Building and testing joint structures and services

  • Developing content, procedures and channels for joint communication/interaction with external stakeholders

  • Ensuring sustainability of collaboration initiative over a long period of time

Events & Activities

  • January 2009: First explorative meeting between the European Textile & Footwear Technology Platforms
  • May 2009: Set up of a coordination committee involving representatives of the Textile, Footwear and Sports Technology Platforms
  • Sept. 2009: Development of a first scoping paper
  • Nov. 2009 – Jan. 2010: Joint preparation of the CSA project proposal PROsumer.NET between the Textile, Footwaer, Sports, Forest-based and ManuFuture Technology Platform
  • Feb. 2010: Organisation of a first Public Conference in Brussels attended by over 100 participants
  • March 2010: Publication of a first draft Research Roadmap
  • April 2010: PROsumer.NET project accepted for EC funding
  • Late 2010-early 2011: Inputs to EU debate on future Research & Innovation Policies
  • Early 2011: Preparations for PROsumer.NET project launch
  • May 2011: Contribution to IMS World Manufacturing Forum in Cernobbio, Italy
  • June 2011: Launch of the PROsumer.NET project
  • July - October 2011: Organisation of 1 public seminar and 4 workshops in Germany, Italy & Spain to identify key innovation & technology drivers as basis for development of a full research and technology roadmap and a related implementation plan
  • July 2012: Organisation of the PROsumer.NET mid-term seminar dedicated to the cross-fertilisation of consumer goods and retail innovation
  • April - May 2013: Organisation of 5 national events to present final PROsumer.NET project results in France, Germany, Italy and Spain
  • May 2013: Organisation of the final PROsumer.NET conference & 2nd public European Consumer Goods Research Conference in Brussels (full details here)
  • June 2013: Adoption of a strategy for the permanent management of the European Consumer Goods Research and Innovation Initiative by the key stakeholders from the textile & clothin, footwaer and sports goods sectors
  • December 2013: Submission for a request for recognition of the initiative as a cross-ETP initiative for the period 2014-2020 by the European Commission
  • April 2014: Presentation and exhibition of the initiative and several related EU projects at the Industrial Technologies Conference in Athens
  • October 2014: Organisation of the 3rd Public European Consumer Goods Research Conference on 15-16/10 in Brussels


The European Consumer Goods Research Initiative is currently organised and supported by the following European Technology Platform and other stakeholder organisations:

 The European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing, a European network of industrial an d academics experts and organisations covering among otherares, fashion and functional clothing as well as home textiles and interior design products as well as materials for a further range of consumer goods such as footwear, furniture, toys, bags & accessories etc.

The European Footwear Products & Processes Technology Platform, a European network of industrial and academics experts and organisations covering a wide range of fashion and functional footwear and the related materials and manufacturing processes

 The European Platform for Sport & Innovation, a European network of industrial and academics experts and organisations covering the complete range of sports goods, sports wear and sport and play infrastructures.

The European Forest-based Technology Platform, a European network of industrial and academics experts and organisations covering, among other areas, forest-based consumer products such as furniture & other interior products, toys as well as paper-based consumer products for educative, informative, entertainment and hygienic uses as well packaging materials and products

  The ManuFuture Technology Platform, a European network of industrial and academics experts and organisations covering manufacturing-enabling technologies from tools and devices to machinery to entire production lines and factories for all manufacturing sectors including those dealing with consumer goods.

  Cerame-Unie, the representative body of the European ceramics industry.

Information & Resources

Links to Stakeholder Organisations:

The European Footwear Technology Platform

The European Platform for Sports and Innovation

The European Forest-based Sector Technology Platform

ManuFuture Technology Platform

Cerame-Unie - the European Ceramic Industry Federation

Related Projects:

PROsumer.NET project website


Key Slides from 1st European Consumer Goods Research Conference (Feb. 2010)

Designed to Surprise - Towards a Strategic Roadmap for Research and Innovation in the European Design‐based Consumer Goods Sectors (March 2010)

Presentation at IMS World Manufacturing Forum (May 2011)

PROsumer.NET overview presentation (September 2011)

PROsumer.NET final results video May 2013

PROsumer.NET Strategic Research Roadmap