Everything you need to know about the consumerism in India. Consumerism is defined as social force designed to protect consumer interests in the marketplace by organising consumer pressures on business.

Consumerism is a protest of consumers against unfair business practices and business injustices.

Learn about:-

1. Meaning of Consumerism 2. Consumer Protection 3. Need for Consumer Protection 4. Consumer Responsibilities 5. Business Response to Consumerism


6. Consumerism in Marketing 7. Consumerism and Marketing 8. Management Response to Consumerism 9. Indian Scenario on Consumer Protection 10. Indian Consumer and Need for Consumer Protection.

Consumerism in India: Meaning, Consumer Protection, Need for Consumer Protection and Other Details


  1. Meaning of Consumerism
  2. Consumer Protection
  3. Need for Consumer Protection
  4. Consumer Responsibilities
  5. Business Response to Consumerism
  6. Consumerism in Marketing
  7. Consumerism and Marketing
  8. Management Response to Consumerism
  9. Indian Scenario on Consumer Protection
  10. Indian Consumer and Need for Consumer Protection

Consumerism in India – Meaning

The term ‘consumerism’ was first coined by businessmen in the mid-1960s as they thought consumer movement as another “ism” like socialism and communism threatening capitalism.

Consumerism is defined as social force designed to protect consumer interests in the marketplace by organising consumer pressures on business. Consumerism is a protest of consumers against unfair business practices and business injustices.


It aims to remove those injustices, and eliminate those unfair marketing practices, e.g., misbranding, spurious products, unsafe products, planned obsolescence, adulteration, fictitious pricing, price collusion, deceptive packaging, false and misleading advertisements, defective warranties, hoarding, profiteering, black marketing, short weights and measures, etc.”

Consumer organisations could provide united and organised efforts to fight against unfair marketing practices and to secure consumer protection. The balance of power in the marketplace usually lies with the seller. Consumerism is society’s attempt to redress this imbalance in the exchange transactions between sellers and buyers.

Consumerism challenges the very basis of the marketing concept. Can a free market economy based on competition respond to the rightful public demands? Is there an inherent defect in the market mechanism? Should that defect be corrected by political means, i.e., consumer legislation and Government regulations?

According to P. Drucker, consumerism challenges four important premises of the marketing concept- (1) It is assumed that consumers know their needs. (2) It is assumed that business really cares about those needs and knows exactly how to find about them. (3) It is assumed that business does provide useful information that precisely matches product to needs. (4) It is presumed that products and services really fulfil customer expectations as well as business promises.


Consumerism covers the following areas of consumer dissatisfaction and remedial efforts:

(1) Removal or reduction of discontent and dissatisfaction generated in the exchange relationships between buyers and sellers in the market. The marketing activities of the selling firms must ensure consumer satisfaction which is the core of marketing concept. Marketing practices and policies are the main targets of consumerism.

(2) Consumerism is interested in protecting consumers from any organisation with which there is an exchange relationship. Hence, consumer dissonance (post-purchase anxiety and doubt) and remedial effort can develop from consumers’ relations not only with profit-seeking organisations but also with non-profit organisations, e.g., hospitals, schools, Government agencies, etc.

(3) Modern consumerism also takes keen interest in environmental matters affecting the quality of life.

Consumerism is the public demand both for refinement in marketing practices to make them more informative, more responsive, more sincere, more truthful and more efficient, and for a new concern with factors other than privately-consumed goods and services that determine the quality of life.

Often, the new growing interest for the good life translates itself into demand for more public goods and services such as better highways, more education, better airports, better transport, crime-free cities and better environmental conditions, conservation of natural resources and elimination of environmental pollution and so on. Thus, consumerism represents vital aspects of socially responsible marketing.

Consumerism in India – Consumer Protection

The idea of consumer supremacy and consumer sovereignty is definitely fallacious in a free market economy. In reality, consumer is not a king or queen. The manufacturer or the seller is dominant and his voice is all powerful. His interests normally prevail over the welfare of the consumer.

The root-cause of consumer movement or consumerism is ‘consumer dissonance’, as it has been so nicely termed. Dissonance means after purchase doubts, dissatisfaction, disillusion, disappointment. These are the sentiments of all dethroned sovereigns. But the consumer protection (the core of consumerism) is essential for a healthy economy.

The apparatus of consumer protection alone can give necessary strength to consumers in the market and restore the balance in the buyer-seller relationship. Basically, consumers are demanding four ‘rights’ from the company- Safety of products, full and accurate information about products and services (without which some articles may not be usable and may produce sales-resistance), a choice and a voice (redress).


Growth of consumer movement was a proof that business had not been practising the marketing concept but merely paying it lip sympathy. Drucker revealed that consumerism is “product-oriented marketing.” Consumer protection or consumerism will be redundant if business sincerely practices marketing concept, viz. customer-oriented marketing philosophy.

Kotler is one of the few marketing theorists to see that consumerism is the ultimate expression of the marketing concept because it forces product managers and marketers to look at things from consumer’s point of view. In other words the pressure of consumer protection really presents opportunities not challenges which, if seized upon by the marketers, can provide additional strength to their marketing effort.

Marketers should realise that only satisfied customers are the best business assets and they should not spare any efforts in obtaining as many as possible. This is the underlying spirit of marketing concept and if such a policy is executed not only in letter but also in spirit, there is no reason to have any additional constraint like consumerism or legislation.

Consumerism in India – Need for Consumer Protection

Consumer choice is influenced by mass advertising using highly developed arts of persuasion. The consumer typically cannot know whether drug preparations meet minimum standards of safety, quality and efficacy. He usually does not know whether one prepared food has more nutritional value than others; whether the performance of a product will in fact meet his needs and expectations; or whether the “large economy size” is really a bargain. Hence, we need consumer protection.


1. Physical protection of the consumer, for instance, protection against products that are unsafe or endanger health and welfare of consumer.

2. Protection of the consumer against deceptive and unfair trade practices. Consumer must have adequate rights and means of redress against business malpractices and frauds.

3. Ecological and environmental effects of chemical, fertiliser or refinery complexes will have to be seriously considered because they pollute water, air and food and endanger human life. Consumer wants due protection against all types of pollution; he wants enriched quality of life — a beautiful, healthy, and peaceful environment free from pollution.

4. Adequate protection of consumer public against the abuse of monopoly position and/or restrictive trade practices. Protection delayed is protection denied.


Greater and free competition in the market is of definite advantage to the consumer. Competition can reduce prices, enhance quality and stimulate innovation in product-mix and marketing-mix. Innovation means progress and progress means life, a prosperous life. Competition is the dispenser of justice to the consumer and producer.

Consumer seeks protection, advice and information when his rights are adversely affected. The shift from buyer beware to seller beware has increased the role of Government in promoting the consumer’s right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the right to redress and right to represent.

These consumer rights constitute Consumer Bill of Rights. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy, in his consumer message, summed up these rights of consumers and paved the way for organised consumerism in the U.S.A. and all over the world.

Consumerism in India – Consumer Responsibilities

The rights and responsibilities being the two faces of the same coin, the IOCU has also drafted certain consumer responsibilities which are as follows:

(a) Critical Awareness- To be alert and questioning about the goods and services they use.

(b) Action- To act on fair and just demands.


(c) Social Responsibility- Consumers must be concerned about the impact of their consumption behaviour on other citizens, particularly on disadvantaged groups in the local, national or international community.

(d) Environmental Awareness- To be sensitive about what their consumption of goods does to the environment and not waste scarce natural resources or pollute the earth.

(e) Solidarity- To act together through the formulation of consumer groups which have the strength and influence to promote consumer interests.

Over the last twenty years, in fact, ever since the consumer forum under the Consumer Protection Act became functional, consumers have become aware about their rights and how these can be exercised. But, on the other hand, the Indian consumer does not want to observe and fulfill responsibilities.

He is especially apathetic about his social responsibilities (e.g., indulging in conspicuous consumption of luxuries), environmental awareness (e.g., slave to the disposable culture) and consumer solidarity (‘all I’m interested is in solving my own personal problem’ syndrome).

What the Indian consumer fails to realise is that it is this very lack of solidarity that results in his large-scale exploitation. The more solidarity there is, less will be the need to approach consumer forum for redressal. Solidarity can lead to more representation on departmental bodies that can take care of various consumer problems. Solidarity can lead to policy changes benefiting consumers and much more. The prime concern of the consumer movement is to prevent or minimise consumers’ exploitation and not maximise litigation.


In the present scenario, consumers’ policy issues no longer remain national and local issues. With the Government opening its doors to international business interests, consumer issues too need to be studied and understood in the international context.

Third world countries have already suffered from the policy of ‘dumping’ of drugs banned in Europe and the West and are likely to suffer further from the effects of the transfer of obsolete or worn-out technologies into the countries. Consumer solidarity gains extreme importance at such a time.

The United Nations has adopted a set of general guidelines for consumer protection.

These cover seven areas:

1. Physical safety.

2. Promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interests.


3. Standards for the safety and quality of consumer goods.

4. Distribution facilities for essential consumer goods and services.

5. Measures enabling consumers to obtain redress.

6. Education and information programmes.

7. Measures relating to specific areas (food, water and pharmaceuticals).

The purpose of these guidelines was well described by the United Nations Secretary General in his 1983 report — ‘The draft guidelines represent an initial attempt to create an international framework within which national consumer protection policies and measures can be worked out. They are also intended to assist the international community in its consideration of the question of consumer protection policy and to further international co-operation in this field.’

Consumerism in India – Business Response to Consumerism

Consumerism Opportunities:


Consumerism is now an established, a vocal, and a well-organised force in the marketplace so that consumer complaints and grievances will be heard and redressed (set right). The only question is who will answer those complaints? And who will redress them? Business or Government?

If business ignores them or if business cannot or will not be accountable to the consumer, it is obvious that the only alternative is more and more consumer legislation and Government intervention to ensure justice and fair play to consumers. It means that indifference of business towards ever-growing consumer movement will amount to an open invitation or a blank cheque in favour of Government interference in the free market mechanism.

In other words, consumerism is a direct challenge to business to be met with squarely, if business wants freedom or survival in our economy.

Savvy marketers in India are fast recognising the value of adopting a positive attitude towards the new needs and wants of their consumers. Many of them have instituted “positive action programmes” in their organisations which anticipate and directly respond to consumer demands. This pro-consumerism is reflected in better quality products, better services, better warranties, better credit, clearly spelt out and strongly backed.

It is reflected in the trend to release more informative advertising that not only sells, but clearly and honestly tells the consumer what he, or she, is entitled to know about the product and its performance.

Consumers in India today increasingly expect value for money and quality in products and services. Marketers in India are gradually showing genuine interest in satisfying todays more sophisticated, more skeptical and more demanding consumers. They must bridge the gap between consumer expectations and business performance by adopting pro-consumerism marketing policy. This will benefit the business and economy as a whole.

If businessmen avoid subjecting themselves to self-regulation and voluntary restraint, society has a right to intervene through the people’s Government to regulate their behaviour. In that contingency, authorities will be compelled to impose more and more controls and restrictions through legislation.

If businessmen had earlier shown the necessary foresight and followed effective, fair trade norms or practices, the need for enacting consumer legislations would not have arisen. Failure of business to adopt marketing strategies from consumer’s viewpoint and develop consumer-oriented marketing concept is really responsible for the growth of consumerism and consequent legislation to provide consumer protection.

Self-policing is far more effective and superior or advantageous than State-policing in the field of distribution. There are about 40 million people employed in the Indian distribution system alone. If constructive ties are forged between the Government and the business, through co-operation, both parties can understand each other’s viewpoints and difficulties and our economy can assure distributive justice without controls and restrictions.

Business community must read the writing on the wall and take, without delay, appropriate steps to regulate its conduct and cultivate self-discipline and self-regulation in the larger national interests. Let it be noted that this is not merely for protecting the consumer interest but also to protect the interest of the business community itself.

In the current context of Indian marketing environment, business cannot hope to thrive or survive unless it wakes up, faces the realities and fulfills both its economic as well as its social obligations to the satisfaction of the consumer-public — the man in the street — or the community at large. For today businessmen can do their business only with public acceptability. Otherwise they will have no business left to transact.

Consumerism in India – In Marketing

Areas of Basic Rights of Consumers:

Consumers have “rights” which are important for all marketers to appreciate. Recently the UK government has encouraged the development of a citizen’s charter which includes a “Patient’s charter” for the National Health Service, a passenger’s charter for rail travellers, and various other customer-focused initiatives.

The real awakening of consumerism was in the USA. Before Nader’s book, President Kennedy highlighted the obligation on an organisation owes to its customers in his “Consumer Bill of Rights”.

This encompassed four main areas that should be basic rights for all consumers:

(1) The right to safety

(2) The right to be informed

(3) The right to choose

(4) The right to be heard.

The idea of rights can be traced back to the “inalienable rights” included in the US Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson. The marketing profession of today must be aware of these rights and combine them where possible in any marketing plans for products and services. They form a good framework for considerations.

(1) The Right to Safety:

When a purchase is made, the consumer has the right to expect that it is safe to use. The product should be able to perform as promised and should not have false or misleading guarantees. This “right” is in fact a minefield for the marketing profession. Products which were at one time regarded as safe for use or consumption have subsequently been found by modern research not to be so.

There was a time when cigarettes were regarded as not being harmful to health, sugar in foods was not highlighted in television advertising as being bad for teeth, and the public were advised to “go to work on an egg”- in retrospect, was it safe to do so? Other examples are to be found in the medical field, such as the Thalidomide drug which caused deformity to children born to mothers who took his prescribed drug.

Legislation which highlights “Products liability” has been introduced in several countries. This has forced suppliers to consider their responsibility. But should companies go further in a positive rather than a negative way? It could be said that this right will be closely linked to legislation and it is obvious that this right will be closely linked to legislation and it is obvious that marketers who fail to protect consumers do so at their peril.

(2) The Right to be informed:

The right to be informed has far-reaching consequences – it encompasses false or misleading advertising, insufficient information about ingredients in products, insufficient information on product use and operating instructions, and information which is deceptive about pricing or credit terms. But this adopts a negative approach. Avoiding trouble is not sufficient.

Any market should take advantage of every opportunity to communicate with consumers and to inform them about the benefits and features of the product offered. It should be no protection to claim that consumers fail to read instructions. Marketers must ensure fully effective communications between consumer and supplier.

But this ‘right’ determines that customers should be given adequate information in order to implement the next right-the right to choose.

(3) The Right to Choose:

The consumer has the right to choose and, of course, marketing does try to influence that choice. But, in most western markets competition is encouraged and products should not confuse consumers.

As an example, it has been suggested that to make this right easier to attain, packaging should be changed so that similar products from different firms are packaged in exactly the same quantities, or at least use both metric and imperial weights/ measures and so make value comparisons easier for the customer.

In fact, Sainsbury provide this comparative information on shelf tickets, but Tesco do not. The unanswered question remains – Do consumers use this information in making choices, or do they use other criteria?

(4) The Right to be Heard:

The right of free speech is present in all western countries. However, do organisations listen to consumers? In a well-focused marketing organisation such feedback should be encouraged, and it should be treated as a key input for the future. This right allows consumers to express their views after a purchase, especially if it is not satisfactory. When anything goes wrong with a purchase the customer should expect that any complaint should be fairly and speedily dealt with.

Consumerism in India – Consumerism and Marketing

All consumer groups affect the marketing environment in which organisations operate. In addition, it should be realised that individual pressure groups are each ‘marketing’ their ideas, but this is not considered here. Pressure groups can be considered as one way of receiving feedback from consumers.

By working with such groups marketers can gain increased influence, and this can be reflected in additional exposure as the pressure groups can generate positive. PR for cooperative suppliers. Where it is an area of individual consumer taste, such as – beer, the Campaign for Real Ale successfully encouraged suppliers to meet demands.

So marketers need to work with organised consumer groups and understand the power of such groups in reflecting consumer attitudes and in shaping demand. The consumers of today can vote with their spending power.

There is a growing realisation that this is happening. Companies that recognise this and comply with such expectations hold a strong marketing advantage over their unaware competitors. In 1991 The Times reported –

‘Stop drinking Nescafe for the sake of babies in Brazil’, the General Synod (of the Church of England) told us this week. But as far as the Church the England’s legislators are concerned, we may continue to enjoy Rowntrees’ sweets, Eindus fish fingers and Cross & Blackwell soup-our babies may continue to sup breast milk substitutes.

Yet these are also products of the Nestle group, which, campaigners claim, promotes bottle feeding in third world countries, encouraging mothers to give up breast-feeding, and increasing the risk of disease. Nestle says that it is acting in accordance with a World Health Organisation code of 1981; the campaigners retort that it is breaching rules added to the code in 1986.

We chose not to target baby milk, because it seemed inappropriate to boycott a product that some child might genuinely need/ says Patti Rundall, the national coordinator of Baby Milk Action, the pressure group that inspired the motion passed by the synod. ‘Nescafe is Nestle”s highest profile brand, and the company can well afford to lose some of its market share without its affecting jobs.’

Campaigners do not necessarily measure effectiveness only in terms of policies reversed and products withdrawn. There is little doubt that numerically more boycotts fail than succeed, the magazine The Ethical Consumer said last year, adding – ‘Even an “unsuccessful” boycott can be a useful campaigning tool.’

However, when the Avon cosmetics group announced in June 1989 that it was giving up animal-testing, a spokesman admitted that consumer boycotts had influenced the decision. A similar animal testing campaign against Boots. The Chemist, has been less successful. The campaign is directed at Boots shops, but its targets include drug-testing by Boots Pharmaceuticals.

The point is that Nestle are being made a target for consumer action aimed at their top selling product, even though the behaviour being attacked is taking place with another product (dried baby milk) in another country (Brazil).

Consumerism in India – Management Response to Consumerism

Ideally, consumerism represents a wonderful opportunity for the forward-looking, aggressive business management. Consumerism challenges marketers to be more informative, more effective, more truthful and more responsible. It imparts a new social dimension to the challenge to the marketer and the ideal against which he measures his own performance.

The ideal objective before every marketer is perfect match between the marketing effort and marketing opportunity so that we have guaranteed customer satisfaction and thereby assured profitability — the result of serving the demand. The basis of marketing concept is bending or adapting the supply to demand.

Indian marketing environment in the near future will demonstrate very keen competition among sellers and intense consumerism. In such a matured market all marketers will be obliged to adopt societal marketing concept. Now, we have also Consumer Protection Act.

Consumerism suggests the prospects of new ways of competing for consumers’ preferences — through better products (safer, more nutritious, less polluting, more durable, more reliable, easier to repair and maintain, and so on), better services (better trained travelling salesmen, regional customer-service centres), direct channels of communication between the company and its aggrieved customers (consumer representation or voice in decision-making), better customer information (informative labelling, credible advertising, personal selling, consumer guidance and education, truthful packaging), and the need to develop many entirely new products to conserve natural resources and to reduce pollution, and to permit recycling, when possible.

Many aspects of consumerism and environmental pollution may involve additional costs to marketers. For example, social costs of pollution may have to be absorbed by the business enterprises. These may be involved in the production, consumption and disposal of many products. But such costs also imply a profit opportunity for intelligent and smart marketers.

Since 1975, however, companies are making sincere efforts not only to identify and anticipate consumer problems and initiate constructive actions to solve those problems, but also to reorient their marketing ideology radically to suit the changing circumstances. Corporate managers now consider consumerism not as a threat or an obstacle but as a golden opportunity to establish mutually profitable exchange relationships.

Consumerism forced the business to build up marketing-mix around the consumer and not around the product. This has enlarged appreciably the scope and significance of marketing. Almost all are incomplete agreement that the most important underlying cause of growth of consumerism and recognition of its importance was the general feeling that business must assume greater social responsibilities.

Enlightened and forward looking companies are taking positive steps through the development of a comprehensive consumer-oriented marketing programme.

We may give a few illustrations:

1. Recognition of the natural problem of providing appliances which perform reliably.

2. An improved service organisation to offer service after sale.

3. ‘Cool line’ programme permitting customers with a complaint or problem to contact service consultants directly and a radically simplified warranty.

4. Stopping the sale of items whose contents have been deceptively reduced to avoid a price rise.

5. Marking the phosphate contents of soaps and detergents with shelf signs.

6. Shelf-dating programme for products, such as batteries.

7. Utilising discounting, open dating, unit pricing and nutritional information plans.

8. Experimenting with tel-tags (informative labels) to improve the quality of point of sale information. Tel-tags help also the counter sales force.

9. Providing adequate and accurate information to consumers to enable them to have informed decisions.

10. Advertisers are undertaking consumer educational campaigns to fill up the information gap through special booklets with helpful details. Such a trend is always welcome.

11. Advertisers are slowly but steadily adopting norms of ethical advertising.

12. All external communications (not only media advertising but also product-label copy, warranties, guarantees, and so forth) are made as deception-free and informative as possible.

The examples of consumer-centred marketing programmes merely indicate that the modern business has ultimately realised the need of sound ethics (which alone is good business). Lip sympathy on consumerism will not do. Businessmen will now be judged by their actions. They will have to take due note of new expectations and moods of society and ensure fair trade practices.

Consumerism in India – Indian Scenario on Consumer Protection

Protection of consumers is necessary because an average consumer is less informed and less powerful than the seller. Both voluntary measures and law can be used to protect consumers.

Anyone who buys goods and avails services for his/her use is a consumer. Any user of such goods and services with the permission of the buyer is also a consumer. Government of India has enacted more than thirty laws to improve the lot of the consumers.

Some of these are — The Contract Act 1882, The Sale of Goods Act 1930, The Laws of Torts, The Essential Commodities Act 1955, Tine Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, The Standards and Weights of Measures Act 1976, The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act 1969, Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act 1937 and the Consumer Protection Act 1986.

Despite the plethora of laws and rules, the status of consumers in India remains deplorable. There are several loopholes in many laws. The implementation of many laws has been tardy and faulty. The enforcement machinery is lethargic and corrupt.

Consumers are ignorant of the rights and remedies available to them under different laws. Even if a consumer is aware of these laws, he does not go to the courts due to complicated, time-consuming and expensive legal procedures.

In the absence of strong consumer movement, legislation has failed to improve the lot of the consumers. Further, the various laws provide no direct relief to the consumer as the focus is on punishment to persons violating the laws.

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted for better protection of consumers’ interests. It provides effective safeguards to consumers against defective goods, unsatisfactory services, unfair trade practices and other forms of exploitation.

The law lays down a time frame for disposal of cases. It provides for simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal of grievances because no fee or other charges have to be incurred by a consumer. He can make a complaint on a simple paper without any legal or stamp paper.

Unlike other laws, which are punitive or preventive in nature, this law is compensatory in nature. It provides for three tier machinery consisting of the District Forum, State Commissions and National Commission.

The law also provides for formation of Consumer Protection Councils. These Councils are expected to promote the cause of consumer protection in every State of India through education.

It covers six consumer rights:

(i) Right to safety,

(ii) Right to be informed,

(iii) Right to choose,

(iv) Right to be heard,

(v) Right to redress, and

(vi) Right to consumer education.

After an amendment in 1993, the scope of the Act has been widened to include paid services like medical services rendered for a charge.

The Act applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Central Government. It cover- all sectors whether private, public or cooperative. The provisions of this Act are in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other Act.

State Commission is set up by the State Government and its jurisdiction is restricted to the boundaries of the State concerned.

(i) The State Commission shall consist of a President, who either is or has been a Judge of a High Court, and two other members. All the three shall be appointed by the State Government.

(ii) Only those complaints can be filed where the value of goods/services and compensation claimed is between Rupees twenty lakhs and one crore. Appeals against the orders of any District Forum can also be filed before the State Commission.

(iii) The State Commission, after being satisfied that the goods were defective, can issue an order directing the opposite party to either remove the defect or replace the goods or return the price paid or pay compensation to the consumer for loss or injury, etc.

Any person who is aggrieved by the order of the State Commission can appeal against such order to the National Commission within 30 days.

Consumerism in India – Indian Consumer and Need for Consumer Protection

In marketing and economics, it is said consumer is the king. Consumers are supposed to direct and control all economic activities, but the reality is a far cry from this in India.

The reasons are many:

1. Some products, some of which are of strategic importance, are short in supply. Producers exploit the consumer as in the situation of excess demand, supplier and not the consumer becomes the king in the market. Trading in such products gives rise to black market and hoarding.

2. In certain products, even if there is no actual shortage, markets due to oligopoly (market with few sellers) and monopoly (market with one seller), create an artificial demand by restricting the output so that they are able to push up the price. Under such conditions, consumers often get products paying a high price for a low quality.

3. Ignorant and uneducated consumers. Lack of education has spilled its ill effect on every sphere of the society, including in consumption. Consumers are ignorant and uneducated about the market conditions and the availability of products. In such situations, the marketer has a tendency to exploit the consumer. The situation is really unfortunate when the so called educated people turn out to be ignorant consumers. In India, there are many such cases.

4. People are very scared of the legal procedures. People are apprehensive about Police and Courts. Many consumers, to avoid legal action, will not exercise their rights. People are unaware of the simple procedures under the Consumer Protection Act.

5. Last but not the least, India is a country of low and middle-class income people. Most of them struggle for their “bread and butter” and consider raising voice, against injustice towards them from the market or a Government institution, a time wasting activity, This needs an attitudinal change, and consumerism can go a long way in achieving such attitudinal change.

All these points emphasise one aspect. There is a real need in our country to have a good and effective “Consumer Protection.” Such a protection will go a long way to build a healthy economy. A strong market is made up by strong supply and demand side. Consumer Protection, which is the core of consumerism alone, can give necessary strength to the demand side in the market, which is generally biased in favour of the supplier. To strike a balance in the buyer-seller relation, “consumer protection” plays an important role.

To have an effective consumer protection, a practical response on the part of three parties, viz., the business, the Government and the consumer, is essential. Firstly, the business, comprising the producers and all the elements of the distribution channels, all have to give due importance and regard to consumer rights.

The producer has an inescapable responsibility to ensure efficiency in production and quality of output. Producers are always tempted to charge “exploitative price” that should be resisted, especially when the product is of high importance and relatively low supply. In other words, if it is a seller’s market, a socially responsible producer should see that product reaches the consumer within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price, i.e., products should not be hoarded and black marketed.

As the veteran business executive of a multinational observes- “Restraint is best exercised voluntarily than through legislation, which will, otherwise, become inevitable. Advertising agencies and marketing management have a very important role to play in this respect. By overplaying the claims, they will be cutting the very branch on which they are perched.”

Secondly, the Government has to come to the rescue of the “helpless” consumer by preventing him from being misled, duped, cheated and exploited. The motive of private gain tempts business to maximise income by socially undesirable trade practices. These are calls for Government intervention.

Statutory action, to protect the interests of consumers, has become quite common everywhere in the world. The most common example of Government’s intervention to protect consumer’s interest is the policy of price cycling in the case of house rent, kerosene, etc.

Thirdly, consumers themselves should accept consumerism as a means of asserting and enjoying their rights. This brings us to the next important issue in consumerism — “Consumer’s Rights.”