Consumerism is one of the most popular social issues and is being publicized very fast. The consumer today wants his rights. He wants his full value for the money he spends. He is not ready to accept substandard good or goods whose usage date has expired. He wants full satisfaction from the products he buys.
In today’s society, the dissatisfaction of the consumer and the protection of his rights need quick redressal. The government has made many laws, rules and regulations to nab the defaulting manufacturers, distributors and other members connected with the business and take them to the court of law.
The consumer today is very demanding, skeptical and critical. Therefore, marketers must understand the consumer behaviour to be successful in this changing environment.
“It is a social movement of citizens and government to enhance the rights and power of buyers in relation to sellers.”
Consumer problems can be associated with hospitals, libraries, schools, police force and various government agencies as well as with other business manufacturing and distributing durable, non-durable, industrial goods and service products. There are many causes or roots of dissatisfaction of consumers, which gave rise to consumerism.
They can be listed as under:
- Performance Gap: The consumers are dissatisfied with the performance of the products,which are below their expectations. The consumers feel that the promise-performance gap is widening e.g., the scooter not giving the mileage promised.
- Dissatisfaction with the System: Many institutions are subjected to public scrutiny. There is a lot of trust and a loss of esteem by these institutions or enterprises. One glaring example of dissatisfaction for the consumers is the issue of passport. The procedure is cumber some. There is shortage of staff and even when the passport has been made and is ready for despatch, the despatch does not take place even after six months. Similar is the case in the issue of licenses, ration cards, telephone connections etc.
- The Consumer Information Gap: The consumer is not fully informed about the number of products available in the market and a customer who is short of time and does not have the interest or intelligence to process information is at a loss. Such incidents occur while buying computers, small cars etc. The processing of decision making is complex and often the consumer makes a wrong choice.
- Non-credibility of Advertising: Some consumers have an antagonistic attitude towards advertising. They feel that the advertisements are not credible and doubt their truthfulness. Some want to keep away from the advertising clutter, which irritates them.
- Impersonal and Unresponsiveness Marketing and Service Organization: The response to the human voice by a computer is sometimes annoying. Telemarketing is a great annoyance to the consumer. Lack of complete knowledge by salesman etc. e.g. Most of the banks selling credit cards will call you at any hour and disturb you in your work, your meeting etc. The number of such calls are many in a day and many salesman of the same bank are calling you over and over again. As a courtesy you do not shut them up but it is very irritating and time consuming. Another example of the railway where the bell keeps ringing for long and nobody responds or responds after a long time. If you have too questions to ask before the first question is fully answered, the phone is put down and you are left with incomplete information.
- Intrusion of Privacy: Many consumer information databases are prepared. In this computerized society, this information is easily accessible and effects the consumer’privacy.
These factors and others have given rise to consumer movement. In India, we find a lot of consumable items are either of not right quality, or not of proper weight and price. Sometimes they have external material or elements like insects, cockroaches and other foreign elements. Although these cases are very rare but they are highlighted and give a boost to the consumer movement.