Who owns the consumer?

How do we reconcile the approach of our retail clients and their desire for control of the consumer, in which they invest huge sums, both in the form of research as well as in advertising, brand marketing and  creating retail shopping environments, with our interest in sustainability and reducing unnecessary consumption? Are we ethically and morally at odds or is there a middle way for society, its institutions and us as designers, to continue to develop?  This article from Archinect by J.James R.  only hints at these darker tones while pointing out how consumers are taking control themselves with the help of technology – arguably with the most influential and controlling instrument ever invented – the smartphone – smart for who, I wonder, as Apple, Google an others gather global positioning data and consumer preferences from our searches and movements with which they are able to more and more tailor their offerings to our overt and hidden desires.

Illustration by J. James. R.

Illustration by J. James. R.

The danger today comes from a shopper who walks into a store as if it were a product showroom. She pulls out a smart device and begins scanning barcodes using the Red Laser or Shopsavvy mobile app. She researches specs, prices and recommendations, and then makes a purchase from a low-cost retailer. Consumers are redefining how they shop and retailers are racing to catch up. —Joe Skorupa, Retail Info Systems News Continue reading