Consumer Sovereignty


Mainstream economics uses some simple starting points; it believes that they are the best possible. First is that agents have more wants than they can attain, so that they feel scarcity; in fact, for practical purposes, wants are assumed to be endless. Second, third and fourth are that agents are self-interested, rational, and the best judges of their own well-being. These four assumptions are indeed usually good starting points, rather than starting by assuming that agents are completely fulfilled, altruistic, irrational, and not well-placed to evaluate their own situation. They are not equally good as finishing points. Sometimes good arguments exist for not accepting them.

An assumption that agents are the best judges of their own well being is less questionable for businesspeople and corporations, given the resources they have for analysis. Debate focuses more on consumers. The phrase consumer sovereignty is sometimes read descriptively, to mean that consumers are sovereign, in that procedures are induced via profit-seeking and competition  to provide what consumers want. Sometimes it is read normatively, to mean that consumers should be sovereign, their wishes should prevail concerning what is good for them. The normative claim can rest on three different bases: that consumers do make good choices; that the alternative stance is worse – to use someone else’s judgments and estimates of what is good for a person and how good it is; or quite differently, that people have the right to make their own choices and mistakes.

Consumers will not make good choices automatically and unconditionally. Our wants are not simple; for example, some are wants to not to have other wants (such as the desire to smoke or a compulsion to gamble). Establishing a mature balance between wants involves skills. Choice is also unlikely to bring satisfaction if taken on the basis of weak information. Markets often do not provide consumers with full and reliable information, for it is hard to exclude people from information and therefore to ensure payment for it, so its market supply is weakened. Instead, in a commerce-dominated society, one of the main types of information that adults get will be images that say the good life is obtained through high consumption of commodities; there is too little counteracting public information.

The issue of consumer sovereignty goes beyond whether choices are good for the chooser. Other people are affected. Some wants may thus be unacceptable, notably wants that bring harm to others, including even wants to harm others. Mainstream economists have unfortunately often taken a don’t-want-to-know approach to ethics in which they confuse acceptance of all wants with a value-neutral stance.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Creating a Professional Persona


Your persona is how you appear to your readers. Demonstrating the following characteristics will help you establish an attractive professional persona:

  • Cooperativeness: Make clear that your goal is to solve a problem, not advance your own interests.
  • Moderation: Be moderate in your judgments. The problems you are describing will not likely spell doom for your organization, and the solution you propose will not solve all company’s problems.
  • Fair-mindedness: Acknowledge the strengths of opposing points of view, even as you offer counter-arguments.
  • Modesty: If you fail to acknowledge that you don’t know everything, someone else will be sure to volunteer that insight.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Group Leader


As leader of a group, you are responsible for creating an environment in which discussing leads to recommendations, recommendations develop positions, and compromise between positions brings decision.

You are the person in charge of creating and maintaining conditions in which free discussion flourishes, arguments are quelled, and factions kept temporary. You are the one designated to get the most from each person; to build the contribution of each team-member into a powerful, decision-making force capable of solving problems.

Seen in this light, your task as a leader is a rather awesome responsibility—awesome, perhaps, but not necessarily intimidating.

Just as there are concepts for improving personal participation, there are also proven techniques for building leadership.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Fear Appeals


Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger. For example, mouthwashes, deodorants, toothpastes, and other products make us aware of the social disapproval we may suffer if our breath is not fresh, if our underarms are not dry, or if our teeth are not white.

Aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all,  the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be.

When using fear appeals, advertisers stand a greater chance of converting numerous of a product to its use than of convincing consumers to switch brands.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Factual Support


If you can find facts to support your position or set a direction which makes your goal more obtainable, use them. Facts are most effective if they are from a disinterested third party, or your competition.

One great way or pre-sell is to find magazine and other articles which espouse your point in some way and distribute them to your counterparts. People will read published reports before they listen to an argument from a peer or superior. Reading the information somehow makes it theirs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Don’t Go Alone, Take People with you


Foreigners will almost always have more people on a team. You may not be able to match them (the Japanese and Chinese will always add more people), but do try to reach some balance in authority and power. Being outnumbered is a psychological as well as practical disadvantage. You need the help of a strong team to be able to carry on all the simultaneous activities of a negotiation: giving information, persuading, listening, thinking, preparing arguments, formulating questions and revising strategy as necessary to continue moving toward agreement. It also helps to have a number of nodding (or frowning) faces on your side to give an air of support and unity.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Concession Strategy in Negotiations


Never forget your concession strategy. With new information, you may need to adjust the strategy often, but whether you are, make your concessions count. Whether you make concessions along the way or at the end of deliberations, think of them as tools in the negotiations, not required give-aways. And don’t think you have to make a concession each time the other side makes one, but try to make your concessions only when the other side gives too. Don’t worry about being seen as stubborn—you will be respected for your consistency. Generally it is a good idea to let the opposite side volunteer its own concessions rather than suggest them yourself.

Whenever making concessions, keep them small. Each inch should make good mileage. The other side needs to have something to chip at—giving too much too soon doesn’t allow the process of negotiation. Old hands recommend accompanying each concession with sweat and tears, emphasizing the importance and generosity of the concession. Whether the style of your arguments, they must contain the necessary content.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

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