What Exactly Consumerism Is?
Consumerism can be defined as an ideology and an economic and social order that encourages the consumption or purchase of goods/services in an endless cycle. Consumerism encourages the purchase and consumption of goods and services beyond basic human needs.
Companies are ramping up production to bring new products to market regularly. They then create demand for these offerings through manipulative advertising. Consumers’ desire to try these products drives them to spend more on mindless consumption. After all, this increase in consumer spending allows brands to make a profit and contributes to the country’s economic growth. It is often referred to as the consumer movement as it seeks to protect consumer rights from over-marketing.
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How Does Consumerism Work?
The foundation of consumerism, which powers the country’s economy, is the preference for riches above morality. People barely knew or preferred to acquire unnecessary items until the early 18th century. Nothing else was discovered in the homes but the essential cooking or gardening tools. Due to the absence of commercialization during the period, people enjoyed simple lives, and the global GDP remained at zero.
The industrial revolution ushered forth a new phenomena known as consumerism. The businesses started producing a variety of items on a vast scale. However, this quickly resulted in an excess of product, which must be used at all costs to prevent significant losses. Supply was more than need, so they produced deceptive advertising. They generated demand for their products and urged people to purchase them whether or not they needed them in order to persuade people to consume these material items.
The concept remains a subject of controversy among intellectuals. But one thing that no one has ever discussed is how it has created opportunities for the weakest and poorest sections of society.
History And Growth Of Consumerism
Consumerism dates back to the rise of capitalism in 16th century Europe. Consumerism intensified in the 18th century due to the growing middle class who began to consume luxury goods. The eighteenth century also saw a growing interest in fashion rather than necessity as the determining factor in purchase. The growth of consumerism can also be attributed to politics and economics. For countries to prosper politically and economically, capitalist competition for profits and markets had to be at the top of every country’s agenda. Colonialism is also considered one of the main driving forces behind consumerism.
The growth of consumerism today is evident in both developed and developing countries. This can be seen in the mass production of luxury goods. The media is also oversaturated with advertising. Personal debt levels are also on the rise around the world, indicating that more people are buying extra goods on impulse or without proper financial planning. Other obvious signs of consumerism include product innovation.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The culture of consumption has greatly contributed to the development of the world economy. But at the same time, it significantly affected the social status of people.
- Consumer spending has a positive impact on company, national GDP, and the global economy.
- It encourages the creation of high-quality physical commodities and ethical marketing techniques.
- This forces companies to continue to compete to offer the best products. As a result, consumers can use products with high quality standards.
- Brands must hire people with the skills to produce innovative products that meet customer requirements. As a result, talented people get more opportunities.
- This increases the employment rate as the manufacturing units require more workers and personnel to perform various tasks.
- Only the most successful brands and companies remain in operation, and those that do not provide quality goods and services are eliminated from the market.
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- Material property can become a symbol of people’s identity and social status.
- An increase in consumption can lead to an increase in food prices.
- Reckless lending and issuance of credit cards by banks at low interest rates, as well as government incentives for consumers to shop, could increase debt levels and trigger a recession.
- Associating material possessions with social status can cause people to experience stress, anxiety, and depression.
- This affects the values and morals of consumers as they seek to emulate the lifestyles of their peers.
- In addition to having detrimental impacts on the economy, society, and psychology, it may also have significant effects on the environment owing to industrial pollution, waste disposal, and the over use of natural resources.
Economic Consequences Of Consumerism
According to Keynesian macroeconomics, raising consumer spending through fiscal and monetary policy is the main goal of politicians. Consumer spending makes up the bulk of aggregate demand and gross domestic product (GDP), so increasing consumer spending is seen as the most effective way to stimulate economic growth.
Consumerism sees the consumer as the target of economic policy and a source of income for the business sector, with the sole belief that increased consumption benefits the economy. Savings can even be seen as detrimental to the economy, as they come at the expense of immediate consumer spending.
Consumerism also helps shape some business practices. The planned obsolescence of consumer products can drive out competition between manufacturers to produce more durable products. Marketing and advertising may be aimed at creating consumer demand for new products rather than informing consumers.
Each side of consumerism has pros and cons. While consumerism fosters innovation and economic success, it also comes with a number of drawbacks, such as increased debt levels, mental health issues, and moral and environmental deterioration. Since we already live in a consumption world, finding a balanced approach is ideal. A person’s appreciation of life’s finer goods shouldn’t come at the price of their psychological well-being and financial security.
Also read :What is Economic Growth?
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