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Consumerism: The Ignominy of Sales and Managers

Updated on July 4, 2011

Consumers Advocacy in action

Consumerism is seen as an effort made either by the consumers themselves or government to protect the consumers from unscrupulous practices of companies in their quest for profit making.

Although the definition in Wikipedia removes the Advocacy and Agitation to arrive at a rather neutral position which states that, "Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amount", the Ignominy points back to a more interesting Pathway that directly affects us all.

In a Free enterprise, Sellers/Producers have traditionally become more powerful than Buyers/Consumers. This is attributable to the fact that, market demand usually outweighs supply. Hence, the concept of Consumerism.

Different schools of thought and scholars have different views of this concept. Dr A. A Ijewere stated that, "the growth of vibrant consumerism is slow in Nigeria due to scarcity of commodities". This true to some extent, considering a situation where Soft Drinks and Beverages translates into Coca Cola or Pepsi products.

Irrespective of this, there is an upsurge in consumer mass action against the bad practices of businesses in Nigeria. But the mobilization process is through Government Agencies rather than Civil Society Groups. For instance, between 2004 and 2005, the general populace was adequately informed against the purchase of some products containing "Hydroquinone and Mercury" in their formulations.

Also in 1991, the federal government of Nigeria banned the smoking of Cigarettes in public places and its advertisement in government owned media. This compelled the producers of Cigarettes to retrace their steps by inscribing the Federal Government statement: 'smoking is dangerous to health' and "smokers are liable to die young"

Consumers right ad-vocation also took another dimension when a seemingly Economy inclined Agitation prescribed a ban on some imported goods. An example is the prohibition of sales and use of second hand vehicles. This deviates from Consumers protection when considered as a means to conserve foreign exchange earnings and help to reduce the balance of payment deficit. It only becomes relevant when by virtue of priority, the environmental and health impact of used Vehicle supersedes.

Phillip kottler and keller (2005) defined consumerism as an 'organized movement of citizen' and government agencies to improve the rights and power of buyers in relation to sellers. Whereas we were able to describe a typical situation in developing Countries where Government play more active role, the reverse is the case in other places.

Consumerist should be seen as those aggrieved consumers who join hands with others to protect themselves from the bad practices of business. They strongly believe that since they cannot achieve it individually, it would be achieved by mass effort (movement). This is as evident in the Developed World.

If all sales manager and sales representatives are ethical in their dealings and take social responsibility as the standard for marketing practices, the World and the well being of the people will be normalised and hence we will have no need for consumerist movements.

However, the rise of 'Consumerist Movements and Action' is an indication that many sales managers and representatives are not living up to expectations. This is a call for most business to sit up, as failure to address the issues of ethics and social responsibility would not be in the interest of any Organisation. And this is the reason for the establishment of some Organization to checkmate consumer values, such as, 'National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control' (NAFDAC) whose mandate is to ensure that the health of Nigerian Consumers are protected.

Also, recent Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reforms on merger of Commercial Banks and Insurance Companies, The 'Nigerian Communication Commission' (NCC) decision to control the Activities and Programmes of GSM operators through mandatory registration of Sim cards; are towards the best interest of consumers.


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