The consumer is a person or organization that consumes goods or services that producers or suppliers make available to them in the market and that serve to satisfy some type of need.

The consumer is the last stage of the production process. In this way, it becomes a key element in the production chain, of which it is the end customer. Therefore, it is a vital actor for the development of economies. It offers its resources, usually money, in exchange for said goods or services. In other words, the consumer seeks to obtain a certain satisfaction through transactions.

Thanks to the exponential growth and development of consumer societies, the concept of consumer has been changing and adapting to the definition we currently have. On the other hand, the enormous influence that new technologies and their new uses have had in the economic sphere have obviously also affected the way consumers behave and their nature.

In general, consumers are usually defined as individuals who act rationally and who seek to maximize their utility with the purchases they make. That is, they seek the greatest possible satisfaction and pleasure based on their resources. However, on occasions, and due to the important role that advertising or marketing play, a consumer may exceed their possibilities and act irrationally by consuming more than they should.

Consumer characteristics

As a summary, let's see the main characteristics that consumers present:

  • It is a person or organization that consumes goods or services.
  • It offers its resources, usually money, in exchange for those goods or services.
  • With his consumption, this person satisfies his needs.
  • It is in the last stage of the production process.
  • It is a key element in the production chain.
  • It is vital for the development of economies.
  • They are a fundamental agent in consumer societies.

Difference between buyer and consumer

Before continuing, we must pause along the way to know the difference between buyer and consumer.

And it is that, while the buyer is the person who acquires and buys, as its name says, a good or a service, the consumer is the one who consumes it. The buyer may or may not be the consumer.

Imagine when we make a gift to our mother. We are the buyers, but the consumer will be our mother.

Companies, as a general rule, always make this distinction. In this way, being able to seduce potential buyers, and not only consumers.

Types of consumers

Next, let's look at the main types of consumers that are known:

Optimistic consumer

The optimistic consumer seeks a balance between price and quality. You have confidence in yourself and you are sure of what you are looking for. The important thing for them is the information.

Activist consumer

The activist consumer is one who seeks a good or service that not only meets a need, but does so based on certain values, such as environmental protection, for example.

Emotional or impulsive consumer

An emotional or impulsive consumer is one who is carried away by the moment. Seek instant satisfaction, preferring spending to saving.

Conservative consumer

A conservative consumer is one who prioritizes price in search of savings.

Rational consumer

The rational consumer is the opposite of the impulsive one. Do a thoughtful exercise before purchasing.

Skeptical consumer

The skeptical consumer is one who is not easy to convince. It is characterized by being distrustful, while asking for as much information as possible before making a decision.

Factors that affect the consumer

Among the factors that affect the consumer are:

  1. Preferences or tastes: Each individual in particular establishes and knows what their needs or concerns are, choosing the goods or services that can best satisfy them independently.
  2. The level of income: Depending on the income threshold and purchasing power that an individual has, they will have more or fewer options in the market to be able to satisfy their demand.
Consumer behavior

Consumer rights

Collected in the constitution of the States, we find laws that promote the rights of consumers. In this sense, a series of ethical principles that go out in defense of the consumer when they are violated.

In Spain, for example, the protection of consumers and users is a basic principle that obliges the State to ensure citizens their rights and freedoms in this area.

Well, as it appears in its article 51, the following is ordered to the public powers:

  • Guarantee the defense of consumers and users.
  • Protect your safety, health, and financial interests.
  • Promote information and education for consumers and users.
  • Encourage consumer and user organizations and make them heard in what may affect them.

In this sense, Spanish legislation, for example, establishes the following basic consumer rights:

  • Protection against risks that may affect your health or safety.
  • The protection of their legitimate economic and social interests; in particular, against the inclusion of abusive clauses in contracts.
  • Compensation for damages and reparation for damages suffered.
  • The correct information about the different goods or services and education and dissemination to facilitate knowledge about their proper use, consumption or enjoyment.
  • The audience in consultation, the participation in the procedure of elaboration of the general provisions that affect them directly and the representation of their interests, through the legally constituted associations, groups, federations or confederations of consumers and users.
  • The protection of their rights through effective procedures, especially in situations of inferiority, subordination and defenselessness.

Consumer example

To finish, a clear example of a consumer is ourselves.

When we go to the supermarket, to the kiosk, to the video game store, to any other place where we carry out a transaction, or even when we go for leisure to the cinema, in each of these scenarios we are acting as consumers.

This is because we are consuming goods and services that, previously, we have paid for in the store where we have purchased them.

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