What Does It Mean to Be a Consumer?

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What does it mean to be a consumer : Issues, Problems, Challenges, Attractions?

A consumer can be defined at its most basic level as “an individual who buys products or services for personal use.” There is a common misconception that we can only consume tangible products or things which we can physically use. However, as mentioned in the definition above we can also consume leisure activities- such as watching television, surfing the internet or going for a swim, we can consume education by attending school college or university in order to learn and enhance ourselves and we can even consume the NHS by using the health service to for our personal help – to make us feel better. That aside, for the purpose of this essay, I will emphasise the consumption of material goods in order to analyse the modern consumer, understand their needs and asses the issues, problems, challenges and attractions which affect consumers today.

Having recently moved from a fairly small city to live as a student in Edinburgh, Scotlands more affluent capital, one thing which has caught my attention is the difference in consumption levels. People tend to have more money, definitely have more choice and are far more aware of the latest products and technology, which are available for their consumption. However, to generalise that this is unique to Edinburgh would be unfair. The truth is that there seems to be a constant increase in human consumption throughout the world. In todays society we are constantly pressurised throughout our lifetime to make more and more money so that we can spend our hard earned cash on products and services which we have been convinced will enhance our lives.

It could be argued from an economic point of view that a continual increase in consumption is essential in order to increase profits and the growth of our modern free market economies. The question is, at what cost? Is our obsession with consumption threatening our cultures, our values and...
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