Posted 24 Sep-2020 02:51 PM by Ranjan | 1926

Consumers have become more critical of the policies and practices of Business Houses in recent years than ever before. Consumers are organizing themselves for the protection of their interests. Such a move to better the protection offered to the consumer is called ˜Consumerism'.

Consumerism is defined as a social 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.

The balance of power in the market normally rests with the seller. Consumerism is society's efforts to set right this imbalance in the exchange of goods and services between the sellers and the buyers.

œConsumerism 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 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 the product 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 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 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's 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 marketing to consumerism presents us with philosophical as well as practical questions.

Kotler's (2005) 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 concept, we should recognize certain practicalities that complicate the issue.

The essence of marketing strategy is to think and plan for the long term. This strategic approach is also essential if a firm wishes to adopt an increased social orientation and respond positively to consumerism. The economies of 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. It is likely that such difficulties will be accentuated by the addition of a consumerist/social dimension to long-range planning. The second important consideration is that of the social/economic environment itself.

Consumerism, taken to its logical and ultimate conclusion, implies a major redistribution of wealth and power.

Origin and Development of Consumerism (Globally)

Starting in the 1960s, American business firms found themselves the target of a growing consumer movement. Consumers had become better educated; products had become increasingly complex and hazardous; discontent with American institutions was widespread; influential writers accused the big business of wasteful and manipulative practices; presidential messages of John F. Kennedy and Johnson discussed consumer rights. Congressional investigations of certain companies and their practices proved very embarrassing and finally. Onah (1988). Ralph Nader appeared on the scene to crystallize many of these issues.


Consumerism is simply seen as a œsocial movement seeking to augment the rights and power of buyers in relation to seller. Kotler (2009)

Consumerism is defined as, œactivities of government, business, and independent organizations that are designed to protect individuals from practices that infringe upon their rights and consumption. Baker (1976).

This view of consumerism emphasizes direct relationship between the individual consumer and the business firm Sethi (1974).

To 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;

1. 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.
2. To price products at any level provided that there is no discrimination among similar classes of buyers.
3. To say what they like in the promotion of their products provided that any message is not dishonest or misleading to content or execution.
4. To 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.

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.

An appreciation and knowledge of the respective rights of the buyer and seller help to put the consumer problems into perspective.

Comparing these rights, many believe that the balance of power lies on the sellers' side. It is true that the buyer can refuse to buy a product. But 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 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 influence products and marketing practices in the direction that will enhance the œquality 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:
(i) misleading advertising;
(ii) fast product obsolescence;
(iii) deceptive and unfair trade practices;
(iv) harmful and poorly made products;
(v) unwillingness on the part of the business houses to stand behind their products;
(vi) dumping too many products to choose from;
(vii) overcharging the poor; and
(viii) reckless effort to make œQuick 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.


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