People Who Buy Products And Services Are “Multipliers,” Not “Consumers”

People are people. Always. For instance, throughout the day people might consume food, gas, electricity, media, beer and more, but they remain people, not consumers.

It’s a topic cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken picked up and ran with on Spreadable Media.

My preferred term is “multiplier.” Consider this sentence, amended from a story in the Wall Street Journal: “American multipliers spend more than $8 trillion a year on everything from popcorn to Porsches and eye exams to electricity.” Or consider this conversational fragment from the corridors of a branding firm: “Let’s run it up the flagpole and see what the multiplier thinks.”

“multiplier.” A “multiplier” is someone who will treat the good, service, or experience as a starting point. Multipliers will build in some of their own intelligence and imagination. They will take possession of a cultural artifact and make it more detailed, more contextually responsive, more culturally nuanced, and, lest we forget the point of the exercise, more valuable.

Multipliers it is then.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.