Consumers refers to individuals or households that purchase and use goods and services generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer is used in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.
Consumer in economics and marketing
Typically when businesspeople and economists talk of consumers they are talking about person as consumer, an aggregated commodity item with little individuality other than that expressed in the buy/not-buy decision. However there is a trend in marketing to individualize the concept. Instead of generating broad demographic profile and psychographic profiles of market segments, marketers are engaging in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.
In free market economics, consumers dictate what goods are produced and are generally considered the center of economic activity. Individual consumption of goods and services is primarily linked to the consumer's level of disposable income, and budget allocations are made to maximize the consumer's marginal utility. In 'time series' models of consumer behavior, the consumer may also invest a proportion of their budget in order to gain a greater budget in future periods. This investment choice may include either fixed rate interest or risk-bearing securities.
Consumer in law and politics
Within law, the notion of consumer is primarily used in relation to consumer protection laws, and the definition of consumer is often restricted to living persons (i.e. not corporations or businesses) and excludes commercial users. A typical legal rationale for protecting the consumer is based on the notion of policing market failures and inefficiencies, such as inequalities of bargaining power between a consumer and a business. As potential voters are also consumers, consumer protection takes on a clear political significance.
Concern over the interests of consumers has also spawned much activism, as well as incorporation of consumer education into school curricula. There are also various non-profit publications, such as Consumer Reports and Choice Magazine, dedicated to assist in consumer education and decision making.
- ↑ Cross, Robert G. (1997). Revenue management: hard-core tactics for market domination, 66-71, Broadway Books. ISBN 0-553-06734-6.
- ↑ Brown Partworks Ltd. (2000). Economics, Volume Five - Economic Theory, 16, Grolier Educational. ISBN 0-7172-9570-2.
- ↑ Krohn, Lauren (1995). Consumer protection and the law: a dictionary, ABC-CLIO.
- ↑ An Institutional Analysis of Consumer Law. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. URL accessed on 2007-01-29.