Consumerism and Marketing Foundation

Consumerism is the organized efforts of consumers to demand honest and fair business practices. The consumer movement in the United States started in the early 1900s. It grew during the 1930s and was a major factor in helping Congress pass the Wheeler-Lea Act of 1938. This law gave the federal government the power to prosecute firms for fraud in advertising and for other deception of consumers.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the consumer movement grew stronger and its list of goals grew longer. Leadership in the movement has been provided mainly by Ralph Nader. Laws were passed in the areas of packaging, product safety, and consumer financing plans. Although consumerism diminished during much of the 1980s, it resurfaced toward the end of that decade. The major concern of the current consumer movement is protecting the environment. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 76 percent of Americans think of themselves as environmentalists.

Many firms therefore have become involved in green marketing, especially since the twentieth anniversary of Earth Day, in 1990. Green marketing is the development and use of marketing programs designed to enhance a firm’s environmental image. It is a response to green consumerism. Green marketers believe environmental concerns are influencing the buying decisions of a growing number of consumers. Thus some Sanyo ads discuss the firm’s environmentally safe technologies and “planet-positive” products.


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