Consumer. I hate the word: why Mediation is adding it’s voice to the call for a banning of the word Consumer

Ban_consumer_shop_therefore_am so on Friday as I was posting about Clay Shirky's logarithmic rules for participation, the always brilliant Neil at Only Dead Fish was busy banning the word consumerWillsh at Feeding The Puppy agreed (and got to grips with some nifty HTML widgeting) and now I've officially added my voice to the chorus via a Twitter post #tagged to #StopUsingConsumer.

consumer?  consumer.  I hate the word.  as I do all words or language that undermine what we do and prevent us as an industry from moving on from basic and retrograde thinking.  the boys have already said much in the posts linked above and I won't repeat.  I'll simply say that too often using the word consumer holds us back in three ways:

1. it leads to thinking that all people do is consume stuff.  this isn't only limiting thought but massively missing the opportunity to engage with PEOPLE on terms beyond them buying stuff.  PEOPLE are talking about, creating for, arguing against, fighting for and remixing brands and branded communications all the time.  don't limit the scope of what we do to PEOPLE consuming what we're selling.

2. it leads to thinking that all PEOPLE are the same.  my post from Friday covered this but essentially my argument was that we are still, by and large, expected to think of and present 'one' target audience…  an 'averaged' person or group based on some attribute of attributes that are most relevant to the brief.  but 'average' not only fails to capture the few individuals who would be super-involved in what we have to say or ask them to do, but massively over-estimates the extent to which most people will commit attention to our branded projects.

3.it looks backwards to world where we bought therefore we were.  rather than forward to a world where brands and brand projects and communications add social as well as just economic value to our lives and communities.  for many brands the idea of giving back won't be an add-on, but rather an intrinsic and expected part of what they do.  giving back will become – as it should be – a cost of being in business.

sold?  join in.  if you believe we should stop using 'consumer', then post a tweet that contains #StopUsingConsumer, and the reason.  For instance: #StopUsingConsumer – cos there's no average user, no average consumer, no average contributor, co-creator, or co-collaborator. live with it.

2 responses to “Consumer. I hate the word: why Mediation is adding it’s voice to the call for a banning of the word Consumer

  1. Yes…the bandwagon is rolling at last! My main issue is that it is one of those pieces of language that immediately predisposes the user towards stupidity.
    By electing to use it they have immediately decided to park the decades that they have spent accumulating knowledge about the psychological hangups and motivations of all the people around them, in favour of a basic working assumption that people spend their entire live working out what to buy – or what’s worth, what brands to ‘engage with’…
    At least its better than ‘target’ – which makes it sound like we actually want to kill people…

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