Consumer Responsibility.

So far throughout my blog, I have mentioned how companies fail to do this and how companies fail to do that. Well, its true, they fail to do a lot of things that they should be doing, but so do consumers. Consumers, just like companies, have obligations to the variety of industries they keep afloat, but more importantly they have obligations to themselves. I will use the retail industry to explain this concept, because 1. I know a little bit about the industry and 2. I feel that the examples are more relatable to readers.

So here we go. Retailers use a lot of gimmicks to get you in the door. You have seen the “20% off” coupons and you have rushed to the store to take advantage of the “deal”. You have picked out the item you have been waiting to purchase on “sale” and you take it to the register. You present the coupon and you have been told, “I’m sorry ma’am/sir, but this item is excluded from this coupon.” What?! Excluded?! You have gotten mad, sworn off that retailer, told your friends and made threats. But they were empty threats. You have come back to the store and you have kept them in business. You have allowed them to get away with the exclusions on the coupons. You have allowed them to continue to increase margins and lower their customer service offerings.

As consumers, we have set our expectations too low. We know that retailers are going to make us mad and while we say its wrong, we continue to let them do it. We have an obligation to keep retailers in line. Retailers will simply do anything we allow them to do. This needs to change. Our expectations should rise to a reasonable level and we should not give into the gimmicks of companies.

So how exactly do we bring about change? It will not be easy. It will take the nation as a whole getting fed up with how business is ran today. It will take our tolerance levels hitting rock bottom. But, it can be done.

One way we can impact corporate business, especially corporate retail, is to “shop small”. I am a huge advocate of small business. Small business is often referred to as the “backbone of America”, and if you spend any amount of time looking at statistics, you will understand why they say that. Small businesses have a competitive advantage over corporate business due to the way they are [normally] operated. Small businesses are owned and operated by consumers. Let me explain what I mean. Executives typically seem out of touch with “everyday America”. Their large incomes, fancy cars and expensive clothing put them on a level that is different from the people their corporation serves. This is not to say that being an executive of a Fortune 500 company is a bad thing or that all executives fit this mold, but in my opinion this idea is a major reason of why we are in the rut we are in.

Small business owners, unlike corporate CEOs, understand what it is like to be a consumer. They understand that consumers want to be treated like family and that they want to see the owners maintaining inventory, greeting customers, selling them products, and being approachable. Small business owners rely on the customers from their business to put food on their family’s table. Every customer matters to these businesses and often times they treat their customers accordingly. Shopping small may require you to make a few extra stops, spend a little extra money or cause you to give up your favorite brand for a brand that is new to you, however, you will receive more than a product, you will gain a relationship. On your way to the big box retailer, you will pass businesses like I just described. I challenge you to stop and see what they have to offer.

As consumers we have a responsibility to set standards for the businesses we do business with. Corporations will not change the way they do business if business is growing. Why would they? Take responsibility and indicate that you are tired of the gimmicks. How many punches will we take before we decide to punch back?

Thanks for reading!


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