Monday, February 28, 2011

Revival of consumer consciousness

In the first chapter of a "Consumer's Republic," author Lizabeth Cohen discusses the wave of active consumerism that evolved during the Depression era. Following WWI, people began purchasing mass goods based on the fact they had increasing leisure time and better wages to support a newfound "American Standard of Living" (Cohen 22). As mass production and mass buying kicked into full swing, however, manufacturers and advertisers began deploying deceptive advertising techniques and jacking up prices to higher rates than consumers were willing to spend. So, consumers took action, and a strong percentage of activists were women.

I thought it was interesting how women's consumer clubs were not taken seriously, until the economy hit rock bottom. "The depression, however,...brought the consumer interest to the fore in the already organized women's organizations" (Cohen 33). This can be easily related to a revival of consumer consciousness since the Great Recession in the last few years. One of the sectors that stands out fairly prominently to me is the food industry. The economy of the 1990s and early 2000s led consumers to adopt more convenient practices with how they purchased food at grocery stores and dined out at fast food chains. People had the money, so why not go for a quick meal? Brands took advantage of consumers' negligence over what they were buying. They increased the amount of artificial, cheaper ingredients and marketed products as "healthier" options. I posted an article below about a recent McDonald's campaign that shows just one example of marketing tactics and consumers' tendency to trust brands in providing them healthy food. However, there has been growing criticism of major food brands and fast food chains that fail to divulge information that might make consumers think twice about buying their products. I've seen a lot of articles like this and many people are starting to question their entire diet, making more informed purchasing decisions. I think the Great Recession made people look a little more closely at what they were buying and journalists have seen viral success with articles highlighting corporate misdeeds. I think we're experiencing another revival of consumer consciousness and I expect to see more legislation in the food industry because of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment