This article is about consumers in social systems. For other uses, see Consumer (disambiguation).
Consumers buying fruit in Nanjing, China

A consumer is a person or organization that uses economic services or commodities.[1]

In economic systems consumers are utilities expressed in the decision to trade or not.

Economics and marketing

The consumer is the one who pays to consume goods and services produced. As such, consumers play a vital role in the economic system of a nation. Without consumer demand, producers would lack one of the key motivations to produce: to sell to consumers. The consumer also forms part of the chain of distribution.

Recently in marketing instead of marketers generating broad demographic profiles and Fisio-graphic profiles of market segments, marketers have started to engage in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.[2]

Largely due the rise of the Internet, consumers are shifting more and more towards becoming "prosumers" – consumers that are also producers (often of information and media on the social web) or influence the products created (e.g. by customization, crowdfunding or publishing their preferences) or actively participate in the production process or use interactive products.[3][4][5]

Law and politics

The law primarily uses the notion of the consumer 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.[6] 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.[7] As of all potential voters are also consumers, consumer protection takes on a clear political significance.

Concern over the interests of consumers has also spawned activism, as well as incorporation of consumer education into school curricula. There are also various non-profit publications, such as Which?, Consumer Reports and Choice Magazine, dedicated to assist in consumer education and decision making.

In India, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 differentiates the consummation of a commodity or service for personal use or to earn a livelihood. Only consumers are protected per this act and any person, entity or organization purchasing a commodity for commercial reasons are exempted from any benefits of this act.[8]

Public reaction

While use of the term consumer is widespread among governmental, business and media organisations, many individuals and groups find the label objectionable because it assigns a limited and passive role to their activities.[9][10][11]

See also


  1. "Consumer - Define Consumer at".
  2. Cross, Robert G. (1997). Revenue management: hard-core tactics for market domination. Broadway Books. pp. 66–71. ISBN 978-0-553-06734-7.
  3. Gunelius, Susan (3 July 2010). "The Shift from CONsumers to PROsumers". Forbes. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  4. Scammell, Margaret. "Citizen Consumers: towards a new marketing of politics?" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  5. Prosumer Revisited. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  6. Krohn, Lauren (1995). Consumer protection and the law: a dictionary. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-87436-749-2.
  7. "An Institutional Analysis of Consumer Law". Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-29.
  8. "Consumer vs Customer". Retrieved 2010-03-10. The consumer protection act 1986 of India, is a little more generous with the word 'Consumer'. According to this law, consumer is not only a person who uses the product for domestic personal use, but also one who uses the product to earn his daily livelyhood.
  9. "Words to Avoid (or Use with Care). Because They Are Loaded or Confusing". Retrieved 2012-02-18.
  10. "Quotes on being a "Consumer"". Retrieved 2012-02-18.
  11. "Consumer. I hate the word: why Mediation is adding it's voice to the call for a banning of the word Consumer". Retrieved 2012-02-18.

External links

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Category:Consumer
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