Consumerism is the culture or ideology of excessive consumption of material goods or services. The basic idea behind the consumer protection movement is the protection of the right of consumers. It was President Kennedy who declared the consumers’ rights for the first time in his message to the American Congress in March 1962
They were the right to information, the right to choose and the right to be heard.
Later, the International Organisation of Consumers’.Union added four more. rights, viz, the right to redress, the right to consumer education, the right to a healthy environment and the right to basic needs. These rights were incorporated in the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights. The Government of India also recognized these rights later.
The consumer movement exercises a considerable influence on the socioeconomic environment of business. In a country like India where there is a high percentage of illiteracy among people, where people are less informed and where critical goods are always in short supply, the Government has a significant role in safeguarding the interests of consumers by promoting a climate of fair competition and preventing the exploitation of consumers.
The consumer movement has changed it and sellers feel now it is a question of seller beware. The objective of the consumer movement is to secure the interests of the consumers against all types of unfair trade practices. Consumerism as an effective and _organised movement started in 19605 in the USA. Ralph Nader has lifted consumerism into a major social force.
Consumerism may be defined as a social force within the environment designed to aid and protect the consumers by exerting legal, moral and economic pressures on business and government.
The following features of consumer movement are noteworthy:
1. It is basically a protest movement.
2. It is a mass movement in the sense that masses are the general body of consumers.
3. It is generally a non-official movement. Public and voluntary consumers, organizations initiate the movement.
4. Though it is not a government-sponsored movement, it is recognized and backed up by the Government.