Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Consumer or customer. Is it potato or potahto? I’m coming to believe that the words are not interchangeable. There’s a kind of mutual feeling to the word customer. There is a feeling of equality. Dare I say community? It implies that your “custom” is important and perhaps appreciated. A feeling of taking the time to make sure it’s done right. The word has a feeling of choice. I choose to make this purchase because it fills a need that I have. A retailer is treating you as a customer when you're told "we don't have what you're looking for right now, but we're getting new items in next week, can I give you a call after I check the shipment?"

The word consumer is giving me a whole different feeling these days. I get the feeling that I’m supposed to get in, pick the product that’s the closest to what I’m actually am looking for, get in line, pay for it and get out. News stories throughout the year that emphasize the failure of certain corporations, Wal-Mart for example, to reach their projected sales figures imply that it’s the consumer’s fault for not buying enough. Buy stuff, buy stuff to store your stuff, then buy more stuff to fill the space left by organizing the old stuff.

Mom and I look at a lot of cute things around the holidays or for use in the yard during the four months or so when it’s actually warm enough to do things in the evening in this part of the country. The make or break is “where do we put “?” when we aren’t using it. (Leave yard furniture out around here and it will be green by next summer. The state plant of western Oregon should be moss.) The question is usually a breaker not a maker. Or what are we going to move out to make room for this? Another sale breaker. J

The media onslaught is worst during the holidays. The Black Friday Shopping Frenzy is played over and over on the news. If one fifth of the potential customers are shopping, that means four fifths of us aren’t. We’re home sleeping off our Thanksgiving dinners, watching the parades, breaking out the Christmas carols, reading, playing with the kids, taking a walk if the weather permits, tormenting the cats, whatever; the stuff will still be there when I'm ready to look for it. And if it isn't? I probably wasn't meant to buy that item anyway. LOL

*Note for further research. Which corporations hold stock in media and also own or hold stock in major retailers or drug companies. That would help explain the news stories that emphasize buy, buy, buy stories. Or the “news” releases for new drugs that are barely disguised commercials.

1 comment:

mlraminiak said...

They don't want us to be "customers."  They want us to be "consumers."  They want us to buy it, use it up, wear it out, watch it break or become out-of-date (almost immediately) and then go out and buy another one.  Or the next step up.  This is what keeps the American economy firing on all cylinders.  Lisa  :-]