Goodbye/Hello 2 "Consumer: a Retro Concept"

06/01/2009 02:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


If you dust off an etymology dictionary and turn to the definition of consume, from which the word consumer comes, you will see references dating back to 12th Century words like: use up, devour, take up completely, do away with, one who consumes or destroys. This pretty much sums up what America's wanton consumerism has led to - a deep global recession in our first decade of the 21st Century.

None of these words feel anything like what we are looking for in our new, more enlightened century. This is why the word consumer needs, at the very least,
a face lift. "Conscious consumer" has been suggested as a more enlightened form of consumerism. However, that just seems to suggest a consciously aware devourer of "stuff". NO, the word consumer just needs to be shown the lexicon exit door leaving it behind in the 20th Century.

On the other hand the word citizen dates back before 1300 borrowed from the Anglo-French citisein meaning "inhabitant of a city." Later on in 1380 its extended use in Middle English became "inhabitant of a country." Both of these give a sense of connection, shared purpose, and reason for each one of us to find ways, large and small, to serve our country's growth into a brighter future. And, that is a very good place to be for all of us.

In Barack Obama's inaugural address he called on citizens (not consumers) to remake America. Declaring, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," Our American brand recovery can only be fully realized when we can shift from the consumer to a citizen mindset. The world is waiting for America to take the lead in this. When President Obama meets with the Group of 20 industrial and emerging market nations this week, he will be watched very closely for signals to see if has America learned from her recent failures in corporate greed and dysfunction. It could very well be a turning point for all economies to recalibrate to a more conscious, more sustainable way forward.

Goodbye to the limiting branding and marketing models of consumerism.
Hello to taping into the richer branding and marketing models of citizenry.

Goodbye to unconscious consumption at any level.
Hello to mindful choices at every level.

Goodbye to seeing people as consumers.
Hello to seeing people as citizens.