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Adventures for All

Don’t Call Me a “Consumer”

Idiocracy

Don't call people "consumers" unless you think of them as the mob from "Idiocracy."

Some jewelry business followed me on Twitter today. Jewelry fascinates me, believe it or not. I consider it some of the finest everyday art. The follow earned my curiosity. I checked the business’s Twitter bio and found a marketing trainwreck (I’ve left the business unnamed to protect the ill-advised):

(Business Name) represents a small group of award-winning jewelry designers who share the dream of taking the consumer to the next level.

First, I have no idea what it means to take a consumer “to the next level” in jewelry. It’s hackneyed corporate-speak that has no place being applied to art.

Second, stating the name in the bio eats up valuable characters. It sounds old-school, like someone hired marketer told the company to start a Twitter account – but with no real idea of what to do next.

And finally, I hate being called a “consumer.” The root word is consume. Its connotation is mindless organisms eating everything around them in a non-stop feeding frenzy. It’s a repulsive image and a horrible word. Unfortunately, the Wal-Marts of the world put it to work. And smaller businesses lap it up and recycle it because they’re too uncreative to do better. Or maybe they don’t have the time. Or because they saw a successful business use it. Whatever. They’re just clueless about the power of words to position. To alienate. To inspire.

And a good business should have passion for what it does – especially a business that involves any sort of art! Where is the passion in “taking the consumer to the next level?” That’s a generic phrase for cubicle dwellers. It’s not for someone who appreciates the intricate, multi-colored banded swirls of a painstaking work of mokume gane.

If you’re a jewelry business, think of your potential customers as jewelry lovers. Convince them that they’re sophisticated. Tasteful. Enthusiastic. Not globs of matter gobbling whatever you plop in front of them. Sell the notion that you’re impressed by their aesthetic senses and their appreciation of jewelry as art. “Consumers” equates them to the fat, shuffling, monosyllabic hordes in the movie Idiocracy.

Businesses, prove your devotion to what you offer. Think of what you’re trying to sell me. And think of me in those terms. Call me a cyclist. Call me a hiker. Call me a traveler. Call me a flier. Call me a reader.

But only call me “a consumer” at your own risk.

2 Responses to Don’t Call Me a “Consumer”

  1. blogkitten says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Great article, Justin!

  2. Jools Stone says:

    Haha, well said Justin!
    ‘It sounds old-school, like someone told the company to start a Twitter account – but with no real idea of what to do next.’ Surprisingly common that I think.

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