Post Consumerism: From an Era of Spend to Emerging Citizen Values?

It was recently suggested by Barack Obama that we should borrow and spend less and save more, not rebuilding the economy on the same sand but instead lay a new foundation for prosperity. It’s not the message consumers, this country, or the rest of the world is used to, particularly in a recession.  For instance, […]

Citizen needs

•    Loss of faith in the corporation and the promise of borrowed wealth have challenged the established model of consumption and the relationship between consumer and producer. Consumers are looking to government, and NGOs, to intervene, protect their assets from corporate misadventure and govern this relationship. Governments have become critical to rebuilding economies AND shaping and governing the impact of business.

Greater advocacy and citizenship.

•    Climate change, environmental issues and health-related concerns have exposed the lack of accountability from corporations and consumers. Consumers are looking to government, NGOs and corporations, as well as themselves, to participate and engage in critical change.

Post-consumer sentiment

•    According to Worldchanging.com a new poll from the Pew Research Center has found that the recession is altering our perceptions of what we truly need. The depressed market, bank balances and the increase in price of commodities such as oil and food over the last year has changed societies relationship with consumption.  It’s no longer possible or sensible to consume like we did; it’s also becoming socially un-cool to over-consume and own-BIG.

Political advocacy

•    Job losses in the highly depressed global economy and, in the US, failing healthcare, education and public transportation has led to highly vested public interest in government expenditure, the Stimulus Package and corporate rescue plans. The jobless and the employed are highly engaged in political decision-making and the direction of stimulus.

Participation

•    Access to the network is enabling greater participation in business models and the supply chain, transforming the industrial producer-consumer model. Consumers are increasingly vested in the direction of corporations, a product or campaign, or indeed ARE the stakeholders of the company – coming together as part of a cooperative or collaborative business model to create shared value.

The implication for brands and corporations cannot be ignored because the nature of the producer to consumer relationship is fundamentally changing. I will seek to explore this challenge and give some examples of where I see example new models of value creation emerging in Part II of this article.

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