A consumer is a person or organization that uses economic services or commodities.
In economic systems consumers are utilities expressed in the decision to trade or not.
The consumer is the one who pays to consume goods and services produced. As such, consumers play a vital role in the economic system of a nation. Without consumer demand, producers would lack one of the key motivations to produce: to sell to consumers. The consumer also forms part of the chain of distribution.
Recently in marketing instead of marketers generating broad demographic profiles and Fisio-graphic profiles of market segments, marketers have started to engage in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.
Largely due the rise of the Internet, consumers are shifting more and more towards becoming "prosumers", consumers that are also producers (often of information and media on the social web) or influence the products created (e.g. by customization, crowdfunding or publishing their preferences) or actively participate in the production process or use interactive products.
The law primarily uses the notion of the consumer in relation to consumer protection laws, and the definition of consumer is often restricted to living persons (i.e. not corporations or businesses) and excludes commercial users. A typical legal rationale for protecting the consumer is based on the notion of policing market failures and inefficiencies, such as inequalities of bargaining power between a consumer and a business. As of all potential voters are also consumers, consumer protection takes on a clear political significance.
Concern over the interests of consumers has also spawned activism, as well as incorporation of consumer education into school curricula. There are also various non-profit publications, such as Which?, Consumer Reports and Choice Magazine, dedicated to assist in consumer education and decision making.
In India, the Consumer Protection Act 1986 differentiates the consummation of a commodity or service for personal use or to earn a livelihood. Only consumers are protected per this act and any person, entity or organization purchasing a commodity for commercial reasons are exempted from any benefits of this act.