What does consumption mean

Consumption: an important definition

The term consumption is omnipresent and is used quite naturally in many different contexts. One hears again and again in the media about consumer society, private consumption and consumers. However, the term is also more and more negative. A definition of consumption is interesting for everyone and explains the origin of the term and its characteristics.

Consumption: definition and origin of the word

The word “Konsum” is derived from the Latin “consumere”, which stands for consumption and use as well as consumption. But the term “consumere” can also be translated with the word waste. Generally speaking, the term consumption denotes the Consumption of goods. From an economic point of view, a definition of consumption specifically means the selection, purchase, use and consumption of goods and services. Consumption in the economic sense is the activity of choosing, buying, using and consuming.

Goods are all means that are used to Satisfaction of human needs can be used. The people who consume are the consumers. They are also often called consumers. There is a difference between private consumption and public consumption. Households and their members consume privately. Public consumption refers to public institutions.

Consumption in the 18th and 19th centuries

In Britain, industry grew and new jobs arose in the early 18th century. Citizens' incomes rose, and so did their purchasing power. The Demand for consumer goods rose like beer, tea, tallow, liquor, printed clothes and soap. Fashion magazines became very popular and they made consumers more willing to consume because these magazines set trends. So consumption was influenced as early as the 18th century. A short time later, other magazines followed suit. Not only Great Britain made this change, but also France, Germany and the Netherlands.

In the middle of the 19th century, advertising in newspapers, shop windows and magazines went through a great development and consumption increased continuously. The first advertising pillar was also built during this time, which was a lot Space for advertisement bot. The industrialization in Europe and North America offered complex production, information and transport possibilities. The first consumer houses were built towards the end of the 19th century. They were characterized by fixed prices. The wide range of offers also increased consumer preferences.

Global consumption: when did it happen

Mass consumption began with the reconstruction of Germany after World War II. What used to be considered luxury goods, such as fine spices and exquisite fabrics, has now become mass-produced goods. Also international goods were sold in the market in the 1950s and so consumption slowly became global. In the 1960s, electrical appliances were all the rage. There was hardly a household left without electrical aids such as electric razors or refrigerators.

The market for plastic furniture, energy sources and valuable raw materials boomed in the 1970s. In the 1980s, consumer goods in the fields of beauty and lifestyle gained in importance. The Internet offered a whole new way of consuming. During this time it became possible to order goods directly from other countries and have them delivered from there. We can now speak of a global consumer society.

Politicization of Consumption

Political issues are also becoming more and more important for consumption: for example, the media are increasingly dealing critically with Consequences of Consumption or NGOs call for a boycott of certain products.

But numerous companies are also active in this field: They try to add meaning to certain products in terms of content and thus make them more attractive for consumers. So with goods Messages linked, just like the Krombacher company did in 2008 with their rainforest project.

The negative touch

The term consumption has the negative association not least because of its literal translation with the word waste. Modern society, especially in the western world, is often referred to as a consumer society, which in the absolute abundance lives and consumes and wastes resources regardless of the environment. With regard to food in particular, meat consumption is always the focus with regard to the environment and animals, and there are also numerous debates on the subject of necessity about technology and electronic devices.

Critics say that consumer needs are one strong media influence and no longer correspond to the actual basic needs of a person. From an economic point of view, however, consumption is essential for an economy to function.


© Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG, all rights reserved