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A consumer is a person or group of people, such as a household, who are the final users of products or services. The consumer's use is final in the sense that the product is usually not improved by the use.[not verified in body]
The consumer is the one who pays to consume the goods and services produced. As such, consumers play a vital role in the economic system of a nation. In the absence of effective consumer demand, producers would lack one of the key motivations to produce: to sell to consumers. The consumer also forms part of the chain of distribution.
Typically, when business people and economists talk of consumers, they are talking about the person as consumer, an aggregated commodity item with little individuality other than that expressed in the decision to buy or not to buy. However, there is a trend in marketing to individualize the concept. Instead of generating broad demographic profiles and psycho-graphic profiles of market segments, marketers have started to engage in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.
The law primarily uses the notion of the consumer in relation to consumer protection laws, and the definition of consumer is often restricted to living persons (i.e. not corporations or businesses) and excludes commercial users. A typical legal rationale for protecting the consumer is based on the notion of policing market failures and inefficiencies, such as inequalities of bargaining power between a consumer and a business. As of all potential voters are also consumers, consumer protection takes on a clear political significance.
Concern over the interests of consumers has also spawned much activism, as well as incorporation of consumer education into school curricula. There are also various non-profit publications, such as Consumer Reports and Choice Magazine, dedicated to assist in consumer education and decision making, and Which? in the UK.
In India, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 clearly differentiates a consumer as consuming a commodity or service either for his personal domestic use or to earn his livelihood. Only consumers are protected as per this act and any person, entity or organization purchasing a commodity for commercial reasons are exempted from any benefits of this act. Furthermore, Indian case law has quite a few references on how to distinguish a consumer from a customer.
While use of the term consumer is widespread among governmental, business and media organisations, many individuals and groups find the label objectionable because it assigns a limited and passive role to their activities.
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