What is Consumerism Meaning, Need, Importance

Table of Contents:-

  • What is Consumerism?
  • Define Consumerism
  • Consumerism Meaning
  • Need for Consumerism
  • Importance of Consumerism
  • Obstacles to the Growth of Consumerism
  • Consumerism in India

What is Consumerism?

Consumerism is an organised movement of citizens and government to strengthen the rights and power of buyers and sellers. It is the ideology and a concept that has come to stay in business literature. The consumer is exposed to many physical, environmental, and exploitation hazards due to unfair trade practices.

They need protection, e.g., against products unsafe for consumption, such as drugs and contaminated food products and products that may cause lousy injury, such as defective electrical appliances. Additionally, they require protection against deceit by sellers and malpractices.

They should have adequate rights and duties to redressal measures against defaulting business people. A consumer needs to be protected against environmental pollution of air, water, and noise, and effective measures should be devised to keep the surroundings neat and clean.

Define Consumerism

According to Cravens and Hills, “Consumerism is a social force within the environment designed to aid and protect the consumers by exerting legal, moral and economic pressures on business”.

According to Philip Kotler, “Consumerism is a social movement seeking to augment the rights and powers of the buyers in relation to sellers”.

Consumerism Meaning

Consumerism refers to activities or policies that regulate the methods or standards of manufacturers, products, services, sellers, and advertisers in buyers’ interest. Such regulation may take statutory measures or institutional frameworks or be embodied in a voluntary code adopted by a specific industry. Alternatively, it may result more indirectly from the influence of consumer organizations.

Need for Consumerism

To prevent ruthless exploitation, a forceful, well-organised consumerism of consumer movement is needed, coupled with government support and patronage in special legislation. In a country like India, there is a great need for consumer protection for various reasons. Some of the important reasons for consumer protection are given below:

  1. Economically Weak Consumers
  2. Deceptive Advertising
  3. Less Literate and Aware Population
  4. Feedback for Business
  5. Vast Variety of Goods and Services
  6. Responsive Environment
  7. Needed Support for Customers
  8. Minimising Imperfections

1) Economically Weak Consumers

A consumer is considered economically weak compared to the producer or seller. The producer can manipulate the various aspects of the product, such as price, quality, weight, size, etc. The consumer relies on the seller’s trade practices, and if the seller engages in unfair trade practices, the consumer requires protection against such malpractices.

2) Deceptive Advertising

Advertising is a powerful tool for sales promotion, but it is often highly deceptive today. Consumers often need to be made aware of the genuine qualities of the advertised goods. For example, they may need to discern the differences between processed butter and another. This confusion leaves consumers in need of guidance and protection.

3) Less Literate and Unaware Population

Organising consumers in a vast country like India is challenging. The majority of the population is illiterate, ignorant, and ill-informed. The people are not only backwards but also have cultural, linguistic, and religious differences, which makes the problem even more complex.

4) Feedback for Business

Consumerism offers valuable feedback for the business. It enables producers to understand consumer grievances, needs and wants. This, in turn, facilitates the more effective implementation of the marketing concept or the societal marketing concept, depending on the nature of consumerism.

5) Vast Variety of Goods and Services

The advancement of science and technology allows manufacturers to produce many goods. Various types of goods are within the same category and produced by different manufacturers. There are varieties of the same type of goods produced by different manufacturers. Though they provide a choice of selection to the buyer, they have made the goods more complex and complicated, making selection difficult. In such a situation, the consumer needs guidance that consumer organisations can provide.

6) Responsive Environment

Consumerism will prompt the government to be more responsive to consumer interests, leading it to take necessary statutory measures and establish the required institutional arrangements to safeguard consumer rights.

7) Needed Support for Customers

Producers and sellers should not take consumers for granted. When consumers are empowered to protect their rights, businesses will be compelled to cease unfair trade practices.

8) Minimising Imperfections

Producers will be able to enlist the support of consumers to minimise the imperfections on the distribution front. Many times the supply position is made worse by black-marketing and hoarding by traders. Many sellers tend to charge a price higher than the actual cost by providing one reason or another. The consumer and producer should cooperate to eliminate unscrupulous traders.

Importance of Consumerism

Consumerism has, over time, developed into a sound force that protects and assists consumers by exerting moral, legal, and economic pressure on producers and service providers in some developed countries. Consumerism is supposed to bring the following relative importance in India:

1) No Unfair Trade Practices

When consumers are empowered to protect their rights, producers will not take consumers for granted, compelling them to refrain from unfair trade practices.

2) Better Support of Government

Consumerism makes the government faster and more responsive to consumer interest and thus will take statutory measures. The government provides legal redressal machinery to protect consumer rights.

3) Improvement in Supply

Black marketing and hoarding by traders often lead to a supply shortage. With the support of consumers, producers can minimise imperfections on the distribution front.

4) Liaison with Government and Producers

As the government plays a crucial role in meeting most consumer needs in India, consumer organizations strive to maintain connections with producers and government authorities. This ultimately benefits consumers as well.

5) Better Relations with Consumers

Producers can better understand consumer needs and wants as consumerism provides feedback for the business, which ultimately leads to cordial relations between producer and consumer.

6) Consumer Education

Consumers are given information about various goods and services, including prices, expectations, standard trade practices, etc.

7) Educating Consumers

Well-organised consumerism aids in providing information to consumers about various goods and services, including prices and what they can expect.

8) Liaison with the Government and with Producers

Another important role of consumer organizations is to maintain connections with both producers and government authorities. Recognizing that the government is the key factor in meeting most consumer needs in India, these organizations must understand their broader role in this regard, particularly in India.

9) Producer Rating

In the present day, industries are increasingly investing in testing the safety of their products. Consumer movements tend to centre around questions related to safety, comparative cost-effectiveness, and more. To guide consumers in their choice of products, some agencies carry out tests and submit reports on them.

10) Product Rating

Some agencies use consumerism to conduct tests and submit reports to guide consumers in their choice of products.

Obstacles to the Growth of Consumerism

There are numerous barriers to the growth of a strong consumer movement in India. Among these obstacles, the following deserve special mention:

1) Illiteracy

The majority of Indian consumers are illiterate; therefore, they lack consumer education and awareness of their rights.

2) Cumbersome Legal Process

It is said that the legal process in India is cumbersome and time-consuming. Due to this reason, many consumers do not come forward to seek legal remedies.

3) Lack of Leadership

This is a significant hindrance that has seriously affected the growth of the consumer movement in India.

4) Lack of Effective Implementation of Legislative Measures

Despite the government enacting numerous legislative measures to protect consumer interests, they are not effectively implemented to achieve the basic objective.

5) Difficulty in Disseminating Consumer Education

India, being a vast country, faces challenges in disseminating consumer education throughout the country. Additionally, diverse languages and customs further impede the growth of the consumer movement.

Consumerism in India

Businesses realise that there is no substitute for voluntary self-regulation, and providing little attention not only serves consumers’ interests but also benefits them. The best possible solution is that the consumers must be aware of their rights, join voluntary consumer organisations, raise their voices against exploitation and seek redress of their grievances on time.

India’s sizable youth population is propelling the consumerism trend in the country. For the youth, shopping is not just a necessity but also a leisure activity. Additionally, more disposable income and an increasing number of people working in families have contributed to this trend. The good news is that Indian consumerism has yet to attain maturity.

However, the challenge lies in the fact that society as a whole believes in saving rather than spending. A liberalised economy has opened doors to multinational companies(MNCs), and all companies have successfully adapted their products, marketing communication or in some cases, both to local conditions and preferences. Examples include McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Maggi noodles, which taste different in every country.

Evolution of Consumer Trends: Impact of Organised Retail and Changing Perceptions in India

Organised retail formats have also contributed to the spending spree in the country. It is a common misconception that Indian consumers are very price-sensitive. It is partly true, yet it is fast changing. Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) or fashion brands have pricing above the average, but despite this, these companies have gained profits from operations in the subcontinent. We need value for money, and this has been misinterpreted quite a few times.

However, certain conditions, such as high inflation, which is prevalent here right now, hinder the newfound consumer confidence. Thinking globally and acting locally works very well here. The Bharatiya, or Indianness, is essential to the people, and this is precisely what companies are capitalizing on. One needs to see how this strategy would work in the future as the socio-economic scenario is fast changing here in India.

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