A consumer is a person who buys goods and services. This can refer to individuals or entire households.
In the past, consumers choices were limited to whatever companies decided to make. Companies determined what the demand was, made the product, and consumers bought whatever was supplied.
Due to increasing supply from competing companies, consumers have come to the point where they have enough options from different suppliers to be able to make choices that fit their needs better. In fact, companies are now prioritizing consumers’ needs and opinions when marketing products. From product development to packaging and sales, the consumer’s satisfaction is of utmost importance if the competition is to be beat.
Consumer protection laws have also been strengthened in many countries, wherein everything from proper labeling, false advertising, substandard quality products, and overpricing are tackled. Despite the existence of consumer protection laws, there are still many misleading practices and downright criminal neglect when it comes to production and sales. This is the reason why, along with increased consumer awareness, consumer advocates are abounding.
The primary focus of most consumer advocates is to educate consumers, since consumer awareness, while at an increased level already, is still very much lacking. Examples of popular consumer advocate groups include the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and non-profit publications like Consumer Reports and Consumer Direct.