Marketing R.I.P.? Consumer R.I.P.?

consumer-rip.jpgA post over at Brandflakes for Breakfast linked to a provocative article at This blog sits at the site, with the slightly self-important title of Death of Marketing? The issue being addressed is whether the term Marketing is truly relevant and accurate anymore. Should it be replaced? The discussion in the comments is lively and thoughtful.

A couple of the comments resurrected one of my pet peeves – not so much regarding the term Marketing, but the far more offensive (to me, anyway) term Consumer. I’ve posted on that in the past – including the difficulty of finding a substitute.

Maybe there’s hope, however. Here’s a summary of my comments on the Death of Marketing post:

    I, too, have despised the term “consumer” (finding it to be demeaning, and lacking in the crucial emphasis on choice) for quite a while, and wracked my brain for a suitable substitute…with little success. However, revisiting the challenge today, how about the word ADOPTER – which emphasizes two important truths:
    1. it contains the word “opt” – and all promotion must recognize that the potential customer is one who opts, or makes choices.
    2. it implies the ongoing relationship to a brand/offering – if I, as a customer, adopt an offering, that means I may well be a continual user, and an influencer of others.
    As for marketing – I agree that that term has to be driven by a change of view regarding the first term. If my efforts are targeting a potential “adopter,” not a “consumer,” does that change how I view my role and the nature of my work?

What are your thoughts on these terms? Are they still useful? Should we “adopt” new ones?

(The idea of the customized tombstone I shamelessly ripped off from the Brandflakes folks. You can have lots of fun making custom-generated signs here.)

4 Responses to Marketing R.I.P.? Consumer R.I.P.?

  1. Mario Vellandi says:

    “Consumer” has been around for so long and is highly relevant at least to particular product categories that we, well, eat or use within a short period of time. The word itself though is seems unpleasant…we don’t like to consume; we’d much rather “enjoy”.

    But applying the word to many other product categories, doesn’t make any sense….it’s just tradition. “Adopter” is friendlier, although unique and just different. I don’t know what to think of it.

    I don’t mind the word ‘buyer’, although it does imply someone will be purchasing soon or has bought already. What’s nice is we can add an adjective to the front describing the buyer, or the category they’re interested in: “car”, “prospective”, “interested”.

  2. impactiviti says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think you’ve touched on a very important point – it is difficult to find one ideal word that describes a purchaser of a car, a shopper at a grocery store, a reader of news, a subscriber to a magazine, a music downloader, a (fill-in-the-blank) … the term consumer is used for all this and more, but I just don’t like the depersonalized and, at times, inaccurate notion that we exist to “consume” whatever is offered.

    Maybe we just need a neologism. Anybody want to make up a brand new word that somehow fills the bill??

    – SteveW

  3. Pingback: Driving Away Customers « StickyFigure

  4. H. Kabir Mukul says:

    Assignment on Marketing for Consumer.

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