I'm banning the word 'consumer' from this blog. Not that it crops up that often here – I've been making a conscious effort to avoid using it ever since Adam launched his 'Stop Calling Me a Consumer' Facebook group (and even wrote a piece of Firefox script that automatically replaced the word 'consumer' with 'people') almost two years ago. No, it's more that I still see and hear it used so often as a lazy, default, catch-all marketing phrase and as I've said before, I believe that the language we use in this industry compounds viewpoints and behaviours that we need to move on from. Consumers are people and people do more than consume.
There are reasons why I think it's timely to raise this:
Because marketing and communications, now more than ever, are about being human. There is real, tangible value in this. In his IPA President's inaugral speech, Rory Sutherland talked about how at its heart, our industry is about creating ideas that turn human understanding into value, and how it will be through improved human understanding that we will improve the breadth and value of those ideas, and how we need to demonstrate social value as well as commercial value, and how customers and employees can no longer be treated as what Muahmmad Yunus calls "one dimensional beings". And changing the language is a good place to start.
And because this recession has changed things for good. Because there's never been a better time to hit reset, do business differently. Call it constructive capitalism. Call it post-consumerism. Call it Generation M. Changing the language is a good place to start.