Consumers, from the point of view of economics, are individuals or households that "consume" goods and services produced by the economy. Considering that this includes almost everyone, the term is not just an economic term but also a political term the way it is used in everyday speech. Generally businesspeople and economists speak of "consumers" as one who consumes an aggregated commodity item with little individuality other than that expressed in the buy/not buy decision. There here is however an upcoming trend in marketing to individualize the concept. Instead of generating broad demographic and psychographic profiles of market segments, marketers are engaging in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.
In standard microeconomic theory, a consumer is assumed to have a budget which can be spent on a range of goods and services available on the market. Under the assumption of rationality, the budget allocation is chosen according to the preference of the consumer, i.e. to maximize his or her utility function.
In time-series models of consumer behaviour, the consumer may also invest a proportion of their budget in order to gain a greater budget in future periods. This investment choice may include either fixed rate interest or risk-bearing securities.
Concern over the best interests of consumers has spawned much activism, as well as incorporation of consumer education into the school curriculum. One non-profit publication active in consumer education is Consumer Reports.Within many selling companies "consumer" has come to be a derogatory term. Meaning "purchaser of products who is not very intelligent." This is in contrast to the meaning of customer. Which is defined as an intelligent purchaser who has power in the purchasing relationship between buyer and seller.