December 8, 2011

Materalism still lives?

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 11:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

Compare and contrast the following:

I already have a beautiful wife, a hilarious son, two hondas and a decent house. What else does a man need?

One of the most outrageous incidents of the day was in the Los Angeles area, where up to 20 people were injured after a woman at a Walmart used pepper spray to get an edge on other shoppers in a rush for Xbox game consoles.

The reason I wanted to highlight these was that I was struck by a statement in a piece which mentioned the concept of a post-consumer generation. It got me thinking – I wasn’t sure I agreed.

In reading about the Khan Academy (an online educational resource started by an ex-fund manager), I came across the first statement, which was the founder’s explanation as to why he didn’t try to make the Academy into a big business venture. His words do seem to echo the sentiment of someone looking for more from life than an ever expanding pile of ‘stuff’.

However, a couple of days later, I was reading about Black Friday and events described in the second paragraph. And again, in the UK, something comparable from an interim report on the August riots which suggested that

the 13,000 to 15,000 estimated rioters who took part in £500m worth of looting and destruction were not motivated by coalition cuts or politics, but by the belief – only belatedly corrected by the 4,000 arrests so far – that they could get away with stealing supposedly high-status goods on an industrial scale.

That sounds more like people who still very much want ‘stuff’.

There are some simple factors at play. The current economic environment has meant people cannot afford to buy all they want. Tellingly, agreement with the statement ‘I’ve got all the material possessions I need’ has dropped from 58% in 2008 to 50% in 2010 amongst US consumers in the Global Monitor Survey from The Futures Company.

However, I don’t think that means companies should go all out on appealing to our still live acquisitive instincts. In the UK, the Littlewoods Xmas advert which shows a nativity play with children rapping and singing about their presents bought by their mums, didn’t go down very well. Amongst some of the comments bouncing around on mumsnet were the following:

Encourages debt fuelled consumerism (easy payments)
Could pressurise people out of guilt to spend more than they can afford

Better to do a John Lewis and have an ad which doesn’t really show any ‘stuff’ and makes us cry!

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