Consumer movement refers to the effort of consumer protection promotion through a social movement that is organized and which exists in several places. Usually, consumer organizations are at the front position of such a movement. It also advocates consumer rights especially those that are infringed through actions taken by governments, organizations or other firms that provide services and goods to consumers.
Where it started
The first conference on an international scale was held in 1960 March in The Hague. Several consumer organizations participated in the conference and five of these signed papers creating the International Organization of Consumers Unions (IOCU). Consequently, as a result of that conference, the global movement was formed.
The term “consumer movement” is used in writing and is comparable to “consumerism”. Consumerism is a traditional term and one that is practiced by modern day age consumer organizations. It refers to progression of consumer protection which includes passing of customer protection laws by legislators.
Additionally, it includes educators teaching consumer policy, product testers who ensure products are within the desired quality standards and regulators who policy consumer laws. Note that consumer movement is non-profit group and it promotes the interests of consumers through reformation of practices upheld by corporations or government policies. Therefore, consumer movement is described as a subset of “consumerism” discipline.
The United States
During the 1960’s, US lobbyists of the Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation begun using “consumerism” referring to the movement in a hostile and depreciatory manner. This was with the aim of denigrating the movement and Esther Peterson’s work in her position as the Special Assistant to the materialism and commercialism President. The term has an ideological foundation and some of the people who were behind the idea of the movement include:
- Ellen Swallow Richards who pioneered home economics
- Upton Sinclair who raised public interest in the protection of consumers
- Herbert Hoover who demanded that products should be tested and insisted on the need for application of technical standards in product manufacture
- Thorstein Veblen who introduced advertising theory and conspicuous consumption concept
Historians recognize the publication “Your Money’s Worth by Stuart Chase and Fredrick J. Schlink as the event that led to establishment of consumer movement. The publication of the book, according to historians was innovative leading to introduction of product testing concept which forms the basis of modern day age consumer movement.
Consumer movement is believed to have its origins in the US. From the 1960’s through to the 70’s scholars started recognizing consumer activism “waves” setting the stage for a whole movement to be born with the purpose of protecting consumer interests.
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