The 21st Century Consumer: an Endlessly Moving Target

Wendy Gordon
The Forth Room
and 
Virginia Valentine
Semiotic Solutions

The theme of this article is that something is not right with the way expressions like 'the target consumer' or 'our customers' are used nowadays. We use these descriptions automatically without reference to the fact that the world has changed and meanings have altered. This is what is wrong: our view of the 21st century consumer is stuck in a 20th century model of thinking.

Neil Postman writes about how technology has entered our language and shaped our view of the world. We have hundreds of new words to use that stem directly from digital technology. 'Reprogramming', 'website', 'software', 'WAP', 'internet' and 'virtual' are a few obvious examples. But technology also changes the words that already exist, such as 'community', 'content', 'information', 'memory' and 'direct'.