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Account for the rise and subsequent decline of consumer industries in MEDC's

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a) Outline the main characteristics of consumer industries (5) b) Account for the rise and subsequent decline of consumer industries in MEDC's (20) A) Consumer industries are those that produce goods that are demanded by the market for consumption, the kind of goods produced relate strongly to market trends and fashions. The majority of consumer industries gain economies of scale, this is where the cost of a product is lowered in the long run by producing a large number of the same product. Having a large output, making use of automation, locating manufacturing in NIC's (newly industrialising countries) and having a standard design for a product are all common characteristics shared by consumer industries. B) In the UK the rise of consumer industries began for the middle class in the 1920s with white goods such as fridges. However consumer industries have not been steadily growing since then. There have been growth spurts, and several depressions: mainly due to wars or economic disasters such as the 1973 oil crisis - in the 1980s the consumer industries began to weaken in terms of employment. ...read more.


This method - "fordism" -- led to cars being sold for cheaper prices than before (since low skilled labour could be used along side highly skilled labour and it is cheaper than highly skilled labour) this meant more people could afford to buy a car. This method was also used in other industries, especially with white goods, meaning price reductions all around for the everyday consumer. Some MEDCs has what is known as a "fordist economy" with large amounts of the workforce working eight hour days and being paid good wages. Henry Ford believed that workers would have enough leisure time and money to consume the mass production goods that were being churned out of the factories - and he was right. Another reason for the rise of consumer industries in MEDCs was that increased technology lead to the use of mechanisation, which was much cheaper in the long run and lead to cheaper products. As the trade unions became stronger and the workers demanded higher wages, companies decided that it would be much cheaper to move production abroad to LEDCs and NICs which were offering government subsidies as well as cheap land and labour. ...read more.


Even though the manufacturing of the consumer industries had moved to NICs the administration and research and development had stayed in the MEDCs, this is a kind of "international division of labour" and means that large amounts of the money made from selling the goods actually ends up returning to the MEDCs instead of where they were produced, an example of this is Dyson who moved his production line of vacuum cleaners to Malaysia but kept the research and development in Malmesbury on the M4 corridor alongside the administration. With the introduction of computerisation even if manufacturing has stayed in MEDCs there has been a decline in the amount of workers who are needed for the factories to produce the same amount of goods. So whether the decline in consumer industries is defined as the number of workers employed, or the actual output supplied makes a difference to the pattern of manufacturing change throughout the world. For the foreseeable future it seems as if consumer industries will continue to decline in MEDCs, because the manufacturing is offered for so much less elsewhere. ...read more.

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