The Consumer Paradox #1 : the (Clear) Gap Between Intention and Behaviour

déclaration et comportement


Denouncing the dehumanisation of business. Being indignant about the pre-eminence of groups like Amazon, Uber or Google. Challenging the management methods used in logistics centres (competitions between staff, workers running along the rows to beat the ticking clock, etc.).


And then a minute later, starting to rave about how excellent these same companies are. Making an online purchase at Amazon’s food store and finding that the store matches my values more closely than the competition does (the Shopper Value Barometer 2017 reveals that this opinion is shared by 47% of customers) and that it stands out for the respect it gives me – (this is the opinion of 56% of customers).


Being the spokesperson on social media for orangutans threatened by deforestation; taking a stance against palm oil.


And, once your smartphone is safely in your pocket, opening a packet of biscuits, no questions asked. And, above all, not denying yourself any pleasure.


As a taxpayer, expressing your resentment towards companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Apple which make arrangements to avoid making a profit in France and thereby escape paying business taxes, while, as a customer, expressing your gratitude and undying loyalty to these companies.


The inconsistency is evident, yet perhaps not apparent. By updating the image we have of the consumer, we can rid ourselves of this paradox.


Awareness of our own experience vs awareness of the experience of others

Are the French indifferent to employee working conditions? Are they unconcerned by companies’ tax contributions?


This paradox can be explained by the significant imbalance between the consumer’s awareness of their own experience and the way in which they are treated, and their awareness of the experience of others, whether they be employees or suppliers.


However, some products, like coffee and cocoa, do escape the law of indifference. How can it be that for certain products, large swathes of the public are aware of manufacturing conditions and even of fair trading relationships with suppliers, whereas for others, this is not the case? Products like coffee and cocoa are “cult” products. They affect the image the consumer has of him- or herself. These products can improve the status of those who consume them. Buying Fairtrade coffee therefore boosts one’s social self-esteem.


On the other hand, spaghetti and ice cube trays will have more difficulty reaching this status.


So respecting values can be an excellent way for brands and labels to stand out. However, consumers need to see their image boosted by these values in order for them to be aware of them.


Nathan Stern, ShopperMind President, social engineer, social network creator.