There we go again, I just noticed this on my Facebook homepage. A new group “Stop calling me a consumer…” was set up. Every now and then I see a post or a comment that relates to this topic. Don’t say consumers, but say users. Don’t say users, but customers, … say people, human etc.
Now I agree that you don’t want to want to say ‘hey mr. consumer’ into someone’s face, but apart from that this terminology really is alright you know. First of all, these words don’t all mean the same thing. This is a first important point to make as it shows that it makes no sense to say ‘not a consumer, but a user’. An example might be:
I’m a consumer in the computer electronics space and since I own both a PC and Mac, that makes me a customer of Apple and Toshiba (as well as Microsoft) for instance. I’m a user of Vista, GreatNews, …
Second, since they have other meanings these ‘tags’ are very helpful for marketers to define and segment their audience and hence do better at talking to this audience. So why wouldn’t we use this terminology, it’s helpful. I am a person, a human and depending on my relationship with a brand I’m also a customer … etc.
[Update: while reading some more at the group on Facebook, I noticed a link to David Armano’s Logic+Emotion with a graph that explains exactly my point – I should have known :)]