Consumerism is the idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that a person’s wellbeing and happiness depend fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions.
In the 1800s people rarely had money to spend on things other than basic needs like food, shelter, clothes, etc. But in western Europe, All that changed with the growing economy. People had more money than they needed for survival, people started spending on other things like fancy clothing, wigs, and other things that we might consider as useless purchases.
All that was possible with companies advertising clothes in magazines, drinks, and cigars in newspapers, and so on. It was the beginning of consumerism.
Countries with higher GDP tend to consume more products. Hence, companies shift to developing countries to harness potential growth.
But why do we even buy the stuff we don’t even need or initially want?
The answer is that we are not sold products, we are sold emotions and feelings that are associated with the product.
The problem with consumerism and capitalism isn’t that we are being sold to, but companies selling us products that we don’t need with their ability to convince us that we do.
Ads are less focused on telling the product features and more focused on the feeling and the status attached to the product, Take some man’s perfume ads, for example, they don’t show the features of the perfume, they advertize the female attention that the product will bring to its users. Or coca-cola ads don’t advertise the rich flavor of their soft drink they advertise the joy and happiness the product brings when consumed with friends and family.
Owning an expensive product can surely increase your status among your group, Status is the primary reason why many luxury businesses are still running and growing, Owning Nike classic shoes will automatically assert dominance over some other lower-level product, Or owning a Ferrari will increase chances of being respected and being a person of importance. Ads of luxury products often advertise status more than the products, Because status is what makes sales. More increment in status more the sales.
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”Chuck Palahniuk
The pressure of owning a bigger car, a bigger house, expensive clothes, etc are the needs that can be induced by social pressure. When all our friends have expensive cars, iPhones, watches, we are subconsciously pressured to buy similar products to not be left out of the group, As we are social animals we are most inclined to buy the products that our friends have to increase our bonds with them, the products didn’t sell themselves with their features, but with the feeling and status that it gave us in the group. This is observed in children the most, they don’t shy demanding things other kids have because they know what the thing will bring with itself, new friends.
“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”Friedrich Nietzsche
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
Sometimes it’s not even your Fault!
Let’s take an example here, Let’s consider you have an android phone and all your friends have an iPhone device, so in order to be on the same level with them in the hierarchy, your body constantly feeds you the thought of having an iPhone and construct reasons why you should have one when there is no obvious reason whatsoever.
Poverty does not cause crime, Relative poverty does.Jordan B Peterson