When Adam Smith wrote “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”, he wasn’t thinking of JBS S.A, or Anheuser-Busch InBev, or Grupo Bimbo, S.A.B. de C.V..
He was thinking of Mr Jameson, Mr Paterson and Mr McDermid – people his mother knew and spoke to regularly, trying to make a decent living. Who knew that if they tried to short-change customers or cheat their suppliers they’d be found out, word would spread and business would be lost.
But as Adam Smith also wrote “The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. Monopoly of one kind or another, indeed, seems to be the sole engine of the mercantile system.“
There’s a reason marketeers talk about ‘brands’. Brands aren’t people, or even companies, they’re more often monopolies masquerading as humans.
As consumers (and human beings) we should at least keep ourselves aware of that.