When I was young my parents were unable to buy a television. To watch television we visited a friend of my father who had to work day and night to pay for this feature. At home we played games, listened to the radio and read books.
My parents always went to the same small shops around the corner. The owners knew my parents very well.
My parents had to pay attention to their financial budget all the time. To buy a television or another expensive product they had to save money for many years. When something broke down it was always repaired. People reused almost everything.
My parents did not have any idea about the outside world. The world ended at the border of my hometown (Leiden, The Netherlands). One week in a year we went to visit the brothers and the sister of my father in Gelderland about 60 kilometers away from Leiden. We went there by train. His brothers were farmers. They never went on a holiday. They had no idea how the countries outside the Netherlands looked like.
The consumer in the fifties (I was born in 1951) were what I call Balanced Consumers. The majority of the consumers had to reflect and to save money before they could buy a product. Products were constructed to stay alive for a long time. The counterpart of the balanced consumer was the isolated craftsman or the isolated local businessman. Most of the shops and the companies were one (wo)man shows. They were owned and operated by a family. The children were more or less forced to help their parents.
Suddenly the first supermarket appeared. It was created by a local entrepreneur. Soon he repeated the concept in many other towns. The supermarket was the next step in a scaling process that went up and up. The producers had to move the same way. Slowly they destroyed the “one man shows” in every area of society.
My uncles had to stop their “one wo(man)” farms because the local market stopped to function. The only way to survive was to get a contract from a meat-producer. In a short time the producer almost owned their farms and kept lowering the prices he wanted to pay. At the end my uncles had to stop farming.
The big supermarkets started to buy their products on a very large scale. In the first step they bought their products on a local level but soon they started to globalize. This stimulated international transport (boat and airplane).
What happened to the customer?
The customer changed from a human being into a concept. The marketing departments of the big companies designed classifications and the consumer was put into a classification. Companies started to specialize to produce for a special target group.
They also started to advertise. Customers started to standardize themselves. The artificial group constructed by the marketeers became a real-life group. The customers started to behave the way the marketeers predicted.
To keep the production-systems running the next innovation in marketing had to be constructed. The impulses of the customer were highly stimulated. The impulses are highly volatile. They react on trends and hypes. The needs of the customer started to fluctuate on a large scale. In the end the market became almost unpredictable. The only way to react was to scale up again, lower the costs of manual production, to automate and to standardize.
The impulsive customer is just one type of customer. They are the target of the producers. The impulsive customer is mostly young.
The creative, conservative, social and conscious customer are forgotten. They are mostly older. The social customers are group-oriented, cooperative and empathic. The creative customers are intelligent. They know how to buy almost everything for free. The conservative customers want to stay in the past. They don’t like impulse-marketing. The conscious customers know that the producers are wasting nature. The complement of the impulsive customer is a forgotten majority.
The producers try to create a very intelligent production/marketing-machine to sell old fashioned, creative, cheap, trendy, social, green products. This is almost impossible. The one-to-one shops, the craftsman and the old fashioned farmer are coming back. People stop to watch television and start to read a book or play a game. Radio is on its return. The economy is moving down. Inflation is speading up. People have to look at their budget again. The amount of customers that are buying second hand articles is increasing. The Balanced Customer is on its return.
We have moved full cycle.