Consumerism is the Shame on Marketing
Consumers of the 21st century have become more critical of the policies and practices of corporate houses in recent years than ever before. All overworld, the consumers are organizing themselves for the protection of their interests. Such a move to better the protection offered to consumers is called ‘Consumerism’. It is now viewed as a consumer movement against poor and fraudulent practices of marketers.
Consumerism is defined as a global social consumers movement and social consumers force designed to protect consumer interests in the market place by organizing consumer pressures on business. Consumer organizations could provide united and organized efforts to fight against unfair marketing practices and to achieve consumer protection against such malpractices.
The balance of power in the market normally rests with the seller. This is evident in marketplaces. Consumerism is society’s efforts to set right this imbalance in exchange of goods and services between the sellers and the buyers ethically.
“The social global Consumerism means that the consumer looks upon the manufacturer as somebody who is interested but who really does not know what the consumers’ realities are. He regards the manufacturer as somebody who has not made the effort to find out, who does not understand the world in which the consumer lives, and who expects the consumer to be able to make valuable purchasing and consumption decisions and distinctions that the consumer is neither willing nor able to make. ”
On the analysis of the above definition, consumerism challenges four important premises of the marketing concept. Firstly, it is assumed that consumers know their needs. Secondly, it is assumed that business really cares about those needs and knows exactly how to find them.
Thirdly, it is assumed that business does provide useful information that precisely matches products to need. Finally, it is presumed that products and services really fulfill customer expectations as well as business premises.
In a nutshell, consumerism refers to the efforts organized by the consumer groups to remedy their frustration in realizing their standard of living, caused by products and services not conforming to their expectations. Consumer-orientation can thus lead to helping the consumer fulfill his needs by offering appropriate products at a reasonable price.
Apart from helping the consumer, it is in the long-term interest of the manufacturer and marketer to protect the interest of the consumer. If he does not do so, as in countries like India, the consumerism movement will gain extra momentum and the picture from various parts of the country is proving that it is shame on marketing.
Marketing and Consumerism
Marketing is to convert societal needs into profitable and mutually beneficial opportunities. Marketers must ensure proper service with appropriate products to customers and consumers. The relationship between marketers-customers rests on mutually beneficial exchanges but when it gets one-sided screwed by malpractices from marketers it leads to consumer movement-consumerism.
Marketing’s and consumer interest and well-being ethical issues are of course, inextricably bound up with consumerism, and the implications for both reach beyond the boundaries of ‘marketing management’. The response of sellers and marketers and marketing to consumerism presents us with ethical, philosophical as well as practical questions.
The worldwide call for a ‘revised marketing concept’ would take into account the long-term moral and social issues with which marketing should now concern itself. Before examining further such a social-driven ethical consumer concept, we should recognize certain practicalities that complicate the issue. But it is no denying fact that failure on part of marketers has given birth to consumerism.
The essence of marketers, sellers, and thereby marketing strategy is to think and plan for the long term mutually beneficial associations with consumers. This much-awaited strategic approach is also essential if a firm wishes to adopt an increased social orientation and respond positively to consumerism. The economies of corporate and business life, on the other hand, tend to invoke short-term concern, and while the evidence of successful long-term strategy is all around us, this is never easily achieved. Factually it is likely that such problems and difficulties will be accentuated by the addition of a consumerist/social dimension to long-range planning. Marketing myopia must be avoided. The other important and vital consideration is that of the ethical/social/economic environment itself.
Consumer social movement i.e. Consumerism, taken to its ethical, logical, and ultimate conclusion, implies a major redistribution of wealth and power.
Origin and Development of Consumerism (Globally)
The malpractices from marketers led to consumerism. In the latter half of the 20th century in the 1960s, American business firms found themselves the target of a growing consumer movement. Globally and in the USA the literacy rates and standard of living changed and the Consumers had become better educated; products had become increasingly complex and hazardous; discontent with American marketing and business institutions was widespread; influential writers accused corporate and the big business of wasteful and manipulative practices; presidential messages of John F. Kennedy and Johnson discussed consumer rights. Congressional investigations of certain corporate, business houses, and companies and their practices proved very embarrassing and finally.
Consumerism may be seen as a “social movement seeking to augment the rights and power of buyers in relation to seller”.
Baker (1976) defined Consumerism as, “activities of government, business, and independent organizations that are designed to protect individuals from practices that infringe upon their rights and consumption.
In order to comprehend and understand the full implications of the above definition, it is worthwhile examining what these rights have traditionally been held to be.
The Sellers have the Following Rights;
- To introduce any product in any style or size provided that it is not nor injurious to health and safety, and provided that potentially hazardous products are supplied together with appropriate warnings.
- To put unusual high pricing and price products at any level provided that there is no discrimination among similar classes of buyers.
- To show, depict and say what they like in the promotion of their products provided that any message is not dishonest or misleading to content or execution.
- To incur and spend any amount of money they wish, to promote their product, and to introduce any buying incentive schemes provided that these cannot be defined as unfair competition.
Customers and Buyers in their turn have their own rights and the right to expect certain things from sellers and their products.
1. Not to buy products offered to them.
2. To expect the product to be safe.
3. To expect that the product is in fact essentially the same as the seller has represented.
The use of full insights lead to an appreciation and knowledge of the respective rights of the buyer and the seller helps to put the consumer problems into perspective.
An insight-full analysis leading to a Comparison of these rights, many believe that the balance of power lies on the sellers’ side. It is a fact and true that the buyer can refuse to buy a product. But most of the time it is generally felt that the buyer is really without sufficient information, education, and protection to make wise decisions in the face of highly sophisticated sellers. Consumer social movement and consumer social forces advocates, therefore, call for the following as additional consumer rights:
4. The right to be adequately informed about the more important aspects of the product.
5. The right to be protected against questionable products and marketing practices.
6. The right to make and influence products and marketing practices in the direction that will enhance the “quality of life”.
The right to be informed includes such things as the right to know the true interest and cost of a loan (truth-in-lending), the true cost per standard unit of competing brands (unit pricing), the ingredients in a product (ingredient labeling), the nutritional quality of foods (nutritional labeling), the freshness of products (truth-in-advertising).
Criticism of Policies and Practices of Business Houses: shame on marketing
Of the various criticisms of business made by the consumers, the most important are:
- Misleading advertising;
- Fast product obsolescence;
- Deceptive and unfair trade practices;
- Harmful and poorly made products;
- Unwillingness on the part of the business houses to stand behind their products;
- Dumping too many products to choose from;
- Overcharging the poor; and
- Reckless effort to make “Quick” money with no regard to the humanitarian aspects in general and consumer’s plight in particular.
Despite such desperate developments, it is heartening to note that not all firms have closed their eyes towards such consumerism. Many business houses that are broad-minded, shrewd, and ready to accept new challenges have responded positively to consumer’s criticism of business.
But consumerism spread to the global world is itself a shame on marketing. When marketing fails, the consumerism movement gains. In a nutshell, marketing failure has resulted in the emergence of consumerism so it’s worthy to conclude that CONSUMERISM IS THE SHAME ON MARKETING.