Social Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints

By William Lazer; Eugene J. Kelley | Go to book overview

10. CONSUMERISM--AN INTERPRETATION*

Richard H. Buskirkand James T. Rothe

Consumerism has received much attention in recent business literature.1 Most articles and editorials dealing with the topic have commented on its importance, its underlying causes, its implications, or what interested parties (consumer, government, firms) should do, but most discussions have failed to deal with the topic in a total sense. This article attempts to (1) determine what consumerism is, (2) reveal what has caused it, (3) study its implications and potential dangers, and (4) develop guidelines for corporate policy in dealing with consumerism.

Peter Drucker offers the following definition of consumerism: "Consumerism means that the consumer looks upon the manufacturer as somebody who is interested but who really does not know what the consumers' realities are. He regards the manufacturer as somebody who has not made the effort to find out, who does not understand the world in which the consumer lives, and who expects the consumer to be able to make distinctions which the consumer is neither willing nor able to make."2

Another definition of consumerism has been developed by Mrs. Virginia H. Knauer, special assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs. She stated that the watchword for the new militant mood among American consumers is simply, "Let the seller beware," in comparison to the age-old caveat emptor or, "Let the buyer beware."3

Both of these definitions provide some insight into this current phenomenon referred to as consumerism. Perhaps it would be most relevant to relate consumerism to what has been popularly accepted as the marketing concept for the past 20 years. The marketing concept, simply

____________________
*
Reprinted from "Consumerism--An Interpretation," Journal of Marketing, Vol. 34 ( October 1970), pp. 61-65.
1
"Business Responds to Consumerism," Business Week, Vol. 2088 ( September 6, 1969), pp. 94-108. "And Now, a Message From the Consumers," Fortune, Vol. 80 ( November 1969), p. 103. "Buckpassing Blues," Wall Street Journal, Vol. CLXXIV ( November 3, 1969).
2
Peter Drucker, "Consumerism in Marketing," a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers, New York, April 1969.
3
The Consumer Revolution, U.S. News & World Report, Vol. LXVII ( August 25, 1969), pp. 43-46.
California State College, Fullerton.
University of Colorado.

-111-

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