In the Marketing, introduction book, there are two sentences one of which there is a use of apostrophe, but not the second.

A. Societal marketing concept: The idea that a company’s marketing decisions should consider consumers’ wants, the company’s requirements, consumers’ long-run interests, and society’s long-run interests.

B. The societal marketing concept questions whether the pure marketing concept overlooks possible conflicts between consumer short-run wants and consumer long-run welfare.

Why in the first sentence apostrophe is used and not in the second one?

I read many different posts of the use of apostrophe and I still don't get it. If you have two nouns, how would you decide whether it is a case of an attributive noun and hence omit the apostrophe or a possessive noun and hence use the apostrophe?

2 Answers 2


Because in the first paragraph, the noun 'consumers' is used with possessive ('s). Something like students' motorbikes. And in the second paragraph, it serves as an attributive noun. Read it altogether - consumer short-run wants. Something like hot chicken soup.

How to decide? Well, if it looks natural with possessive, you can go for it (as in your example). But then if it looks odd, don't use it. It all depends on the context/sentence structure. For instance, it does not sound okay if you use 'possessive' here - 'Manchester's football player'. But it does, when you say - "... conflicts between consumer's short-run wants and..."

  • I don't see the difference in meaning in my example regarding the use or omission of the apostrophe . How would the meaning be different if you used the possessive in the second sentence? Why not use the possessive in the second one? Oct 5, 2015 at 5:32
  • There's no difference. It's style. Chicken's soup is chicken soup, Manchester team's coach is Manchester team coach and so on. Using possessive in the second paragraph will absolutely make sense. As I said, you can certainly use it. Also, I see that in the first paragraph, the rest of the sentence uses possessive cases, and so in the second paragraph where both of them are attributives. So, as I think, it's a style.
    – Maulik V
    Oct 5, 2015 at 5:34
  • So using it or omitting it depends on my own personal writing style? Like sometimes if I wanted to say "customer delight" "customer insight" I get really baffled whether I should use an apostrophe or not. Oct 5, 2015 at 5:42
  • 1
    Yes, your own style, but be careful. It should look a well structured sentence then. When you have only two words, it'd be a bit difficult to decide. When you have more than two, it'd be easy (mostly attributive). If I stress my volition, I think when you are referring to anything by large, attributive use is common. When it's personal, possessive seems more common. Compare: "The company should work more on customer satisfaction"; "I advised him that he should not focus on selling items; rather he should work on customer's satisfaction"
    – Maulik V
    Oct 5, 2015 at 6:00

If you are referring to a singular possessive noun, it should be consumer's interest (e.g.), but if you are referring to a plural noun it must be consumers' interest. If you are saying it's your style, you don't have the right to speak about grammar. It's my style!

There are thousands of languages that can be spoken in their own style. With an international language you cannot use your rule and style globally, but you can use it at home YOUR STYLE.

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