Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today’s new word/phrase is CONSUMER-DRIVEN

You probably think you know what this means, however, when you find the phrase--usually in health care, technology or food articles--and analyze the sentence or paragraph, you’ll see it is used to mean exactly the opposite of what you thought.* In my opinion, it really means market and/or advertisement driven, or interest group driven, not consumer (you and me) driven. We've all laughed when told all that scummy stuff on TV is what "the people" want. Total nonsense, isn't it? They call that "consumer driven" programming. It's a soft word for "choice," except, usually the consumer hasn't made a free choice, it's been foisted on her. Someone interviewed 50 teen-agers with credit cards in the small brained crowd and found a match for their value system, then sold it to an investor. We've got a "consumer-driven," multi-use, multi-story condo monstrosity down the road from here that some city planner with the heart of a social worker sold our city fathers. So far, they haven't found enough people with $750,000 who want a condo overlooking the parking lot of Kingsdale Shopping Center.

I came across this phrase again yesterday reading a jargon filled paragraph lauding the achievements of an OSU professor who'd completed "the Food Systems Leadership Institute program." Wondering what a food system was and why someone needed to be its leader, I looked up FSLI. I found more mush words about boundaries, challenges, emerging issues, stakeholders and change agents that explained nothing--those are the same buzz words that librarians, health care workers, architects, and auto suppliers get in their workshops and conferences. But I did see the publication “Land Grant colleges' response to the changing Food System” (corrected version, Jan. 2008) had a focus on drivers and actors. A major theme was the "food system should be consumer-driven," and able to change as quickly as the environment it operates in. From there it really bogged down. See if it makes sense to you.

Today I saw an article in the paper on retirement. Seniors are choosing to stay longer in their own homes, thus hurting the retirement/nursing home industry. Now that is something I'd call "consumer-driven." The consumer has no money, the investments are gone, so they can't pay the entry fee. One night on our way home from our date spot, I noticed the parking lot at Panera's was jammed. I'd say that is "consumer-driven." The formerly two income family now has one, but still wants to eat out on the week-end, so they are choosing a less expensive venue. The consumer, not the ad agencies, are deciding.

But just about everything else you see called "consumer-driven" means the advertisers and marketers, bureaucrats and academics thought it up, and that includes all the hype about organic food, nutrition and exercise, and the "choices" in your insurance plan.

*google this phrase and see if you don't agree


This Brazen Teacher said...

Your post is about Perceived Obsolescence :-)

Thank you for visiting my blog. It seems that we come from fundamentally different philosophical backgrounds, but I like that. And this blog is intelligently written.

I hope you come again soon.


Anonymous said...

Maybe it means they drive the market after they've been made a consumer by the market?

Norma said...

This lawyer who was to give a presentation on consumer driven health care first asked his network (facebook, twitter) to define it.
http://healthcarebloglaw.blogspot.com/2009/01/wvhfma-consumer-driven-health-care.html. So I guess even the people giving the seminars don't know what "consumer driven" means! Or, maybe let the consumer define the workshop even if they don't attend?