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Introducing Consumer Activism.

"As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy." - Emma Watson, a British actor and Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women quoted in her speech at the UN headquarters.

Lawrence Glickman, the leading historian of consumer activism (often called as conscious consumerism), defines it as “organised consumption or, more often, nonconsumption that is collective, oriented toward the public sphere, grassroots, and conscious of the political impact of print and commerce."

This multifaceted movement judges an individual's ability to mold itself towards righteousness, both, rationally and emotionally. It is majorly associated with social movements who fight to achieve a common goal to assert in their perceived values.

When consumers demand transparency and ethical behaviour, businesses are compelled to reevaluate their practices. It drives innovation, leading those companies to incentivise to develop new technologies and processes that align with these values. It encourages a more responsible approach to production and consumption.

Boycotts and Buycotts

Boycotts and Buycotts are a tangible expression of consumer activism.

When a company engages in practices that go against societal norms or ethical standards, consumers often unite to boycott its products. This collective action sends a clear message to businesses that their bottom line is directly linked to their ethical conduct. J. K. Rowling, a multi-billionaire author was collectively criticised by the LGBTQ+ community, activists, and many fans due to her tweets and comments revealing her transphobic nature. It was disapproved of buying her bestseller Harry Potter series and merch, highlighting the complex relationship between creators, their work, and societal views.

However, Buycotting is contrary to Boycotting. S Hoffmann, in his book, 'Ecological Economics' terms Buycott as 'The expression is attributed to the act of supporting a brand or product, trusting their products to be good and agreeing to their values and ethics.'

Adding onto the example given for Boycott with terms to Buycott, The LGBTQIA+ movement has influenced the markets and emphasised on the influence of the opinion an organisation represents. Increased number of pride merch are being consumed by people in various forms such as materialistic products and media and television. People revolutionise the movement through the increase in their production, aiming to change the mindset of people.

Due to the globalised economies and technological surplus, consumers are more informed than ever, and this knowledge empowers them to make conscious decisions. Social media platforms serve as powerful tools for spreading awareness about unethical business practices and prompt consumers to reevaluate their choices. Hashtags and online campaigns amplify voices, creating a sense of community among individuals who wish to find their own platform with like-minded individuals.

Consumer activism in India.

Social action mobilises a movement that could have been snubbed by corruption and evil. In a diverse nation like India, this participatory movement becomes a tool for elevating the marginalised voices into a broader narrative. The democracy which we proud ourselves of, documented as for, by and of the people is followed in the true sense, inculcating values of ethics, awareness and a need for a change against any authoritarianism or tyranny.

The 2015 protest ban of maggi due to discovery of excessive lead in its ingredients is a loud example of the power of 140 crores citizens against such business practices. People in India have come forth and stood as a united front against injustices as far as our history takes us back. Such a platform of consumer activism in our nation is the recognition of power within the hands of the people, empowering individuals to make informed choices that extend beyond personal preferences to contribute to larger societal and environmental goals.

The socio-economic and environmental landscape of India poses different threats to ethical businesses. One of the examples would be the traditional crafts and local artistry that are on the brink of extinction. Racism is a prevalent social issue which has diverged from its nature, integrating awareness into people. Hence, different creams and lotions promising a 'fair skin' are condemned. Advertisements support the arising international movement of feminism and equality have been encouraged to attract more consumers towards the product. Such colossal and massive differences in mindsets promise a broad minded nation where people's psychology is the main consideration.

In essence, consumer activism in India is a multifaceted and evolving force, driven by a desire for ethical, sustainable, and culturally sensitive consumption practices.

Challenges associated with the movement.

Consumer activism is not without its challenges. Making informed choices can be overwhelming and the concept of greenwashing —a deceptive marketing practice where a company exaggerates its environmental efforts— is very prevalent here that can mislead consumers. Consumers should be discerned to distinguish genuine efforts from mere marketing strategies.

Moreover, mass participation is important to create an impact which can be possible through right education on a global scale.

Faith in the future.

It is the consumers that have and still define consumer activism with their perceptions, ideologies, morals and faith along the inordinate length of time. Collective consumerism urges people to stand up for a cause and become an integral part of a change.

To encapsulate it all, consumer activism is a potent instrument that people and communities may use to reshape the corporate business in alignment with their values. The more customers understand the consequences of their decisions, the greater the impact that ethical and sustainable practices have on society. By fostering a culture of informed and conscientious consumption, we pave the way for a future where businesses prioritise not only profits but also social and environmental responsibility. Every purchase we make along this common journey becomes a vote for the kind of world we want to live in, transforming consumer activism into a force for good.

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