To understand the meaning of a consumer, we should look at the definition of it. In simple words, a consumer is a person or any organization that purchase products or services. It may also refer to hiring goods and services. They are humans or other economic entities that use a good or service. They are the end users in the distribution chain of goods and services. Sometimes, the buyer and the consumer are different people. For example, children are the end users of toys but their parents buy toys for them. Therefore, in a market, buyers and consumers can be different people.
In a marketplace, consumers (people or economic entities) purchase or hire products for their own use. They are the final consumers. They do not buy products for further manufacturing or sale. Specifically, people engage in buying and evaluating products to satisfy their needs and wants. Consumers are the key figures in market place. All the activities of the makers and sellers of goods depend on the consumers only.
We can say consumers are the most powerful entity in the market as the whole market business depends on them. Makers of goods or marketing professionals spend their lives studying behavior of consumers. The study of the process of buying and discarding goods is called consumer behavior.
Let us come back to our main concern. We have talked about consumer, but what does it take to be a smart consumer?
There is a difference between consumer and a smart consumer. A smart consumer knows what to buy exactly and from where. He does not beat about the bush. He has a strategy to follow. You can also become a smart consumer. It is an easy task. All you need is a little observation and more effort to buy your desired product. A smart consumer follows a plan. Few steps that we have gathered for you on your way of becoming a smart consumer are listed below:
- Set a goal (confirm your buying product)
- List available resources (places from where you can buy)
- Choose from the resources (from where you will buy)
- Form a plan of action and then follow it.
Sales persons spend a career studying their consumers. They easily know if you are an easy mark. There is a huge difference between a sucker and a smart consumer. Do not be a sucker. Instead, use your money wisely and be a smart consumer. Their goal is to find out what makes you tick. They easily understand what compels you to buy a certain product. In a market place, marketers study their customers using test marketing, sophisticated analytics and outside consultants. They are intelligent but you have to be smart. Here we are giving you five signs of a smart consumer.
- Self control
If you can easily walk past a sale sign, there is a pretty good chance that you won’t fall for a fast sales pitch. It is hard to resist, especially for women, a sale sign anywhere. These companies study you like a lab rat. If you can resist their corporate moves, you are a smart consumer.
Patience is the key to becoming a smart consumer. There is a huge difference between “a want” and “a need”. You should know the difference between the two. Always buy the product that you really need. We want thousand of things but cannot buy all of them. It is wise to buy only needed items. So be patient with your wants.
Politeness is the trait of a smart consumer. Believe it or not, smart consumers know that their manners are the way to get what they want. If you want a special discount or a special consideration, rudeness will rarely get it for you. Always be polite in your manners. Smiling, making eye-contact and saying “please” and “thank you” are the best ways to win over the sales person.
Do you always read the end-user agreement or the contract? If yes, you are already a smart consumer. Suckers only want the product they desire, they do not care about the agreement or contract. If someone catches you reading the fine print on a product, they will understand that you are not an easy prey.
If you immediately give an impression that you are willing to spend your money, you will be an easy mark for them. The sales staff will be drawn to you and they will not let you go until you have spent a big chunk of your money. Do not buy an overpriced and overhyped item. They profit from your ignorance. A smart consumer does not become a part of bandwagon as everyone invites you to become a part of the crowd by using it too snob appeal. So know it all before going to buy any product.
As a consumer, you should also be aware of your rights.
- Right to safety: Protection from products and services hazardous to your health.
- Right to be informed: You should be provided with useful and truthful product facts.
- Right to choose: Selection of goods and services at a fair price.
- Right to voice: if you have a problem purchasing a specific product, it is your right to be heard.
With rights come responsibilities, consumers should also be aware of their responsibilities.
- A consumer should use the product safely.
- Use the information on the product wisely.
- If you have any concern regarding the product, express your concerns to those who can help you.
- Choose the product carefully.
- Educate yourself about the product.
- Consume your product in a healthy environment.
If we move further, there are also consumer protection laws. Most of the consumers are unaware about the laws. Firstly, consumers should be aware of the consumer protection. Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the market place. The laws are designed to prevent the businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation that aim to protect the rights of consumers.
The organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations ( consumer protection agencies and organizations) such as the Federal Trade Commission in America and Better Business Bureaus in America, Canada, and England etc. Consumer protection contributes to dynamic and effective markets for businesses to grow. Consumer demand drives innovation and economic development as businesses are required to maintain fair prices and high quality.
A smart consumer is always aware of his rights and responsibilities as he is the key figure in running big businesses. He should be aware of consumer protection policies, laws and regulations as they help increase consumer welfare by ensuring that businesses can be held accountable.