Don’t call them consumers.

22 06 2009

Originally I wrote this post at duffypov.com when I was still with Duffy & Partners more than a year ago.  But it feels more right than ever before as all of us and society at large have been forced by the recession to consider exactly what it means to consume.  And where it fits in each person’s values set.

 

 

“Consumers are statistics.  Customers are people.”  – Stanley Marcus, Neiman & Marcus

Wikipedia defines a consumer as “a person who uses any product or service. Typically when business people 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.”

Ok, it’s a new day. The term “consumer” must be purged from any organizational lexicon.  Shame on marketers who insist on putting such an arbitrary generalized term on the people they are trying to attract. As if “consumers” live in some petri dish to be probed, prodded and tested.

The term consumer presumes people are put on this earth solely to buy stuff.  How disrespectful to only think of “consumers” in a way that would suggest what they will do for me economically, not what we can do for them.

We are people.  With laughs and tears, dreams and hopes, and a desire to express our individuality in the context of having positive relationships with others and the world around us.

Consumers?  How about people?  The best brands recognize the difference.  In a world increasingly focused on sustainability, brands that respect people as people first will be the ones that are rewarded with—yes purchases—but importantly loyal customers.

 

 

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