What does Consumption mean?

What is Consumption ?

Consumption is the act of acquiring goods or services through purchase and can be understood as one of the stages of economic activity .
In this sense, consumption would be the last stage, preceded by production and distribution.


It is the phase in which the goods and services reach the final consumer , who will acquire them to satisfy their needs: this is the end of this economic cycle .

In capitalist society, it is essential for money to circulate, generating income and employment .
In other modes of economic production , in feudalism for example, consumerism did not assume this central role.

Consumption is carried out by individuals, families and even the state and companies, who buy goods and services to carry out their activities.


Consumption Factors

The types of goods and services that will be consumed by economic agents depend on many factors, such as income, commodity prices, habits, and culture.

For this reason, it   varies considerably between individuals from different regions of the world and also between individuals and families from the same country or region, but belonging to different social classes.

A family with less purchasing power, for example, will choose more affordable products and will prioritize the provision of basic needs such as food, hygiene and health.

Families of higher social class often consume more expensive products and may be better able to purchase superfluous goods.

Types of Consumption

Individual or Collective

It can be from a single individual or a group of people. Public health and education services, for example, are considered collective consumption.

Private or Public

Companies, families and individuals represent private consumption, while purchases made by the public administration represent public purchase.

Basic or Superfluous

Essential or basic goods are those that supply the indispensable necessities of life, such as food, education, clothing.
On the other hand, the superfluous satisfies secondary or tertiary needs, such as aesthetic or even luxury products.

Final or Intermediate

Final consumption is intended to meet needs. The intermediate is represented by the goods and services necessary for the production of other goods, such as the raw materials of an industry.

Difference between Consumption and Consumerism

These two quite similar terms can cause some confusion, but they have different meanings.

  • Consumption is associated with the purchase of products to satisfy needs.
  • And consumerism is characterized by excessive consumption, consumption for consumption.

Until the Industrial Revolution, products were made by hand and therefore more scarce and less accessible.
With the advent of technology and large-scale production, industrialized products became cheaper and consumption began to grow.

From the second half of the 20th century, with the consolidation of the capitalist system in the world , consumerism intensified.
Today we live in a consumerist society  and this classification is directly related to consumerism .

Capitalist society stimulates consumerism to such high levels that today we see the depletion of resources and numerous social and environmental losses.

Effects of Consumerism

Pollution, waste production, poisoning of rivers and seas and extinction of animals.
All these consequences are related to the high human consumption on planet Earth.

Conscious and Responsible Consumption

Concern for the environment and the harmful consequences of consumerism have increased the population’s awareness of this issue.

Conscientious and responsible consumption  means avoiding waste, considering the impacts that purchased products have on nature or humans, reducing the generation of waste and materials that are difficult to recycle.

In addition, it is important to know how and by whom the products are made .
The conscious consumer rejects products that have been produced through labor exploitation or animal abuse, for example.

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