Have you ever given any thought as to why the noun, “consumer” even exists to the extent that it does? We have consumer reports, conumer products, conumer electronics, consumer demand, Consumer Magazine, Consumer Cellular, Consumer Reports, the Consumer Protection Agency, consumer trends, consumer price index … and on, and on, and on…
What we have, is a class of society. However everybody consumes, so what is the definition of a consumer? Why is there such a astronomical play on this word? Let’s start with a simple definition:
Here’s the Economic Definition:
There’s no question about it. Dictionaries define the term as, “A person or thing that eats or uses something.” Okay, so we are all consumers. Not so fast! There’s a second definition which is very similar to the first (which in some cases, is considered secondary.) Yes, biologically, everything that has ever lived, and even everything set in the universe consumes. Therefore everything is a consumer, practially no matter what it is!
As early as the 15th century, the notion of a conumer developed as a person who squanders or destroyes. By 1745, this rather negative view became more economic: the conumer is someone who does not produce and a producer is someone who does not consume. We can see that there’s a definite second definition for consumer.
In the 21st century in developed nations, the original meaning has been virtually lost and is now denotes a person’s position in the society in which he lives.
Why Is There Such Thing as a Consumer?
Though most people wouldn’t shake a stick at it, I find the term a little disquieting. I tend to look at the term in its original meaning. I squirm a little when someone calls me a consumer. Maybe this has to do with what I’ve learnt about it. There’s a sense of inferiority in the designation. For example, I visited a health and medical website. I was a little dismayed when I in the Q&A section of the site. It poses a commonly-asked question, and provides two separate pages:
- One page, entitled, Consumer Version answers the question in a two short sentences a third grader could understand.
- The other, entitled, Professional Version, covered most of the page in scientific, using complicated sentence structure.
Why not say, Non-Professional Version? It perturbed me and I left the site. Maybe not the best example, but in many ways, economically and even in mindset, consumers are thought of as dumb and even stupid. Generally there is yet another item I had not added to the list above, and that is, consumer grade. That’s right. Non-consumer grade products are built to last, are highly serviceable and the highest quality. Consumer drive around in tin cans. Electronic equipment, though designed well, literally turn to dust in a few years. There is a reason for this. In two words, planned obsolescence. Yes, consumer goods are made to wear out after specified use or duration. It’s researched and engineered into products as much as the functionality of them! I could go on. I will be revisiting this again throughout this article which I know is going to become quite long.
There has, and always will be the working class. There will always be the poor amongst us. The term, “consumer” was first thought to be the wasteful, destructive person. Today, this very concept has been replaced by economists to be that of consumer-based societies in more of an agricultural sense. Consumers have their place in the scheme of economic reality. However as such, consumerism is greatly encouraged through mind manipulation overtly without peoples’ knowledge. This is intended and is greatly why the consumer exists today. Moreover, it’s not the masses being wasteful, but four major industries that promote it. There will be more on these four below.
The Consumer Is the Modern-Day Peasant
This may be a little off the wall, but kingdoms had their peasants and serfs. These people lived their lives in desperation and every generation unfortunate to be in this position endured the same hardships their predecessors went through. They were sucked dry, often forcefully by over-taxation and other whims. They were the low class of socieity and in the minds of the aristocrats of the day, to be amongst these folks was unthinkable and vulgar.
There’s no doubt the modern consumer in most developed nations have it much better off than the earlier peasants, but some of the characteristics still faintly exist. Some characteristics between the peasant and today’s consumer are strikingly similar. One major point here is that, like the peasant, the slave, and serf of days gone by, the consumer is by far, the vast percentage of the population. Consumers do essentially what their counterparts did – they are the workers, the segment that makes up the cow to be milked. A little brunt, but true.
Today, the conumer in many modern nations have it far better than the counterpart. There’s far more opportunity, more education, far better health, living, just everything one could imagine. This of course provides a contrast.
Adult Consumers Beget Little Consumers
The consumer has a definite role to play and the development of the economical consumer has slipped under the noses of most of the masses. Silent education continues on from generation to generation and the young are taught well. Just the other day, I noted one of the local grocery stores, Winn-Dixie, took their marketing a step too far – they actually put child-sized shopping carts in the store! Target is another store adding the mini carts to greet the little ones coming in with their parents. Anti-consumer activists have been heavy on the cases of these outlets and both of these have removed the carts.
Doing this has been thought of as clever on the part of the stores that introduced them and many thought they were cute, and perhaps it is, but the practical instruction is there – as consumers, you do whaat you are supposed to be doing as one – do what the big consumers do.
There are untold amounts of driving forces that infiltrate the minds of almost every child. It is the default. It’s the protocol. Children of consumers are necessarily to be taught how to become consumers, the earliest the better.
Consumerism Is Encouraged
In many ways similar to ancient, medieval and into the age of discovery, the role of the common folk is laid out. It’s all hidden in plain sight, and an example I can think of is in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. George Bush’s announcements, in spite of enemy use of commercial passenter planes as bombs, “If you don’t shop, they [the terrorists] have won […] this is what the terrorists want.” The president goes on to encourage Americans to get on those planes, travel, go to work, shop and be happy.
In the face of economic hard times when the attacks occurred, the noted historian Andrew Bacevich suggests that the President was attempting to remove the attention drawn by his irresponsible actions by encouraging Americans to not stop being consumers and dig into what they are supposed to do – earn income, engage in uncontrolled financial irresponsibility. You (the American people) do your job and let us take care of the problems for you.
Consumers exist to move the economy. As in ages past, in spite of happier, healthier economies today, another reality strikingly resembles those of earlier civilizations – the masses exist to get by on a tiny fraction of the total wealth whilst the tiny percentage that make up the super-rich, collect more than the lion’s share of the wealth generated by the common folk.
In today’s terms, especially in the United States, it is said that 10% (and probably much less) of the total population control 90% of all the wealth and the vast majority (90% or more) live on the remaining 10% of the wealth. Due to the advances in science and technology, the world’s population enjoys a far better life (in most places) than did our ancestors however, the inequality of wealth distribution remains a stark reality.
Important People in Our Lives
From the time we are born, we have always had those important folks in our lives, starting with our parents and on up, even to the President of the United States (or any other national leadership.) It has been estimated that those that do not have consumer mindset is about 4%. The entire world population is about 7.2 billion. About 15,000 of those are millionaires (a high percentage of these being entrepreneurs,) and less than 2000 are billionaires. This comes up to about 0.02%. Of course there are many aspiring entrepreneurs who have entrepreneur role-models in their lives.
In every social class, from that of the working poor to the upper middle class, and in some instances, above this, employment is the socially-acceptable means to earn a living through wages. Today we are not so much locked into these classes as much as how traditionalism keeps us in them. It is true, the idea of business becomes more prevalent in the upper classes, but opportunity affords itself to every class these days.
Dad worked and Mom kept house, but after awhile, as the economy became more of a challenge and the cost of living skyrocketed, it became necessary for both parents to go out and work. The so-called orbital family model dissolved.
From the time w are very young, we see this activity and almost everyone we have contact with, be it our teachers in schools, our close immediate relatives and our friends, even our religious affiliations teach both, by example and through lessons that it is the way of life to learn how to work, get a good education, land a deceent career in a chosen profession or employment. Buy a house, get a car, furnish the house with the usual consumer goods, raise a family, and then see the kids off to school – where they are systematically taught to repeat the exact same process.
In our day, higher education is still extremely popular though now only a small percentage ever achieve from the regular education which they paid a fortune for instead, wind up in jobs, debt up to their their necks, one or two paychecks away from ruin and rare occasions to come up for air.
The same idea of getting a good education and then landing that dream job persists today and unfortunately, there’s no steak being sold to them, just the sizzle!
People Are Taught to Be Consumers
In, or around, 1938, Elmer Wheeler came up with one of his famous selling one-liners, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” His selling techniques took the advertising industry by storm and the techniques can still be seen all around us in advertising today. A whole new breed of of salesmen came into being, making use of human psychology and emotion, a power that changed the population, and made it far more susceptible to the uncanny powers of suggestion.
Consumer Seduction in a Nutshell…
Better known as customer seduction, Elmer Wheeler’s deductions developed into a science we know today as the magic of deploying the deliberate use of a number of logical fallacies, twisted like a lemon rind to get every bit of tang out possible. Today, very often, in advertising, there isn’t even any need to include the steak, but the sizzle only. customer emotion does the rest, and when driven by emotion, folks do not take the time, especially when encouraged to spend impulsively, to think first before committing to an offer.
Today, the scence of advertising is so developed that the right messages are flashed before avid television watchers who are literally hypnotized (takes focus and relaxation to cause this) by the programming they have been watching and, with approximately 22.5 minutes of commercial advertising per viewing hour, there isn’t any wonder why the entire population has been effectively seduced and dumbed-down. This phenomenon is carefully and deliberately engineered by the producers and advertizers. There is far more truth to this than most people will admit or even know is happening right in fromt of them! Most of the advertizing, emotionally inert, as is with the feature programming itself, has made the average consumer what he is today. This is a known fact and is also mind control.
It gets worse…
Four Major Industries form an Alliance
There are five industries that have teamed up to make a massive killing off the consumer population, and I say the conumer population because the tactics used by these industries do not fool the wealthy, many of which have taken the time to learn about the tactics these industries, in alliance with each other, carry out. These industries are:
- Advertising industry
The advertising industry has the scientific knowhow to push your buttons and pry at your emotions. Consumers are shown products, and the procedure is to get them to buy through your emotions and not your cognative mind. In other words, they don’t want you to think – and they succeed.
The media takes the advertising and performs strategic placements of products in commercials, television and theatrical productions, and pay celebrities big money to achieve the emotional pull you experience, usually without your knowledge! Remember how hypnosis works?? Why you see the can of coke, the Harley-Davidson, the Audi, and so many other familiar products, is not an accident by any means. Their job is to put products in the face of consumers and it’s so bad that you can’t get away from it coming at you from every direction!
These first two industries lay siege against your emotion, common sense and intellect. They’re not done!
They remarket products to you in many different ways. You have peer pressure, computer cookies (very good reason to have AdBlock and other advertising killers on your browser and do NOT turn them off!) and any number of other ways to implement what is called retargeting technology. The concept here is simple – repetition. The nasty thing about this that you visit merchant’s websites and this results in the transferring of a cookie about the product you were interested in. Without an ad blocking device installed, you get ad banners on websites you visit that have no connection to the product you are now seeing again!
This is an important formula: Attention > Interest > Desire > Action. This is self explanitory.
The merchant’s role is very simple. They come up with more junk for the advertising and media industries to take and process. They also create ploys, especially in brick-and-mortar stores with attention getters, eye-level to sellers, end caps displaying top products in more than one place, and impulse-buying goodies at the cash registers. Maybe there’s not as many lines open as you might like! It’s a game to break your will power literally everywhere you go!. Notice the classic Converse sneakers have ome back out? What about the As Seen on TV products that are basically junk? it’s no accident!
The final industry that binds it all together? The banks! These work in coalition with the other industries and they do go after the consumer as well! Consumer credit is legal robbery. They don’t want you to be financially literate. Can you think of ever being taught how to manage money in school? Conspiratorial as this may sound, that too is no accident. Aside from learning how to count money when you are very young to balancing a budget if you’ve decided to go to a business school, it’s rarely seen!
I have shown you how badly things get stacked up against you and why American consumers are known as materialistic. Now, let’s begin to close here with one final point I’d like to cover, and then some final thoughts…
Is Being a Consumer a Bad Thing?
I would say not. Albeit the big four above, for a number of decades now, first independant of each other and then finally creating an alliance with each other, systematically turn the average consumers into financial zombies. Please do not take offense at this because it’s siege against you from all sides. It’s legal robbery. Most consumers have fallen prey and are hopelessly locked up in debt.
The evil consumerism isn’t the consumer. It’s the coalition described above. I hope, from this two-part series, have been able to help you see the light and perhaps you’re already aware of some of this stuff. Maybe it comes as a surprise to you. You are not alone!
I Don’t Like Being A Consumer. What Do I Do?
Your greatest alibi is knowledge. Nobody says you have to be a consumer and you can change this by first, changing your mindset, removing old habits and replacing them with new ones. I wish I could talk about consumer credit and how damaging that is. If you knew about interest and how it works (maybe you do) you’d fall out of your chair!
Finally, there’s one more thing you can do…
At the end of the first article I mentioned an opportunity to you. I have been a member of this community now for almost nine years. I am very proud of this unique place. There’s nothing like it in excellence, effectiveness, honesty, straight-forwardness, and is an absolutely family-friendly environment. It has helped hundreds of thousands of folks like you build affiliate marketing businesses. To learn more about affilate marketing, please visit my article that explains it. Wealthy Affiliate is the name of the company. My review for Wealthy Affiliate is right here.
If you want to go directly to Wealthy Affiliate, you can do that as well.
I do not endorse, in any way, the type of strategies found in the four industries above, nor do I personally like consumerism, however, there is definitely a place for the consumer in many societies around the world. Their role is needed in societiess like ours. I don’t see people as consumers nor even producers. I see them as human beings with souls, not numbers nor cash repositories to steal from. Most will never venture into entrepreneurship but you can begin today by clicking one the links above!