IS CONSUMERISM A COMPLETELY FUTILE CONCEPT?

Demand and Supply run the dynamics of the modern-day world or simply put Economics. Modern-day politics, policies, relationships – be it at the micro or macro level are governed purely by economics. “Size of the market” influences the amount of leverage any nation gets. To influence consumers or say lure them to buy a product, widen the market share is an old practice. With the world becoming a global village, competition is cutthroat and marketing is a serious business. At the end of the day it is to make a consumer believe – BELIEVE US, BUY OUR PRODUCT, HAPPINESS GUARANTEED!! And this is called Consumerism, to make (attract) the consumers believe that their happiness quotient in life will be enhanced if they buy a certain product.

Is Consumerism Bad? From a purely economic point of view, it is not. The entire machinery of the economy runs and depends on aggregate demand; the percentage of income spent by the consumers against the percentage saved. It is the demand/expenditure that determines the GDP of the economy. The higher the previously mentioned factors higher will be the GDP, hence a better economy. Therefore the focus is on influencing the demand of the consumers.

How Exactly It Works? A petty example: A consumer is attracted or influenced to buy a pair of jeans from a particular brand of clothing and he purchases that. It is direct income to the brand. Let’s see the trickle-down effect of demand / anticipated demand – it creates income for the raw material supplier; for the workers working in the factory producing the final product; rent for the premise holder; salaries for the showroom workers; income for the marketing teams; income for the factories producing petty items like zips & buttons. One demand creates a multiple fold impact. And when the aggregate / collective figure is taken it is huge. And not to mention every time income is created it is again pumped into the economy by respective parties via spending.

How Good It Is For The Consumer :

1.With the advent of concepts like liberalization, globalization, free markets consumer is enabled to make choices from the plethora of goods available in the market. Which means more choice.

2. Monopoly doesn’t work anymore, consumers got a say indirectly in fixing the prices suitable to their pocket.

3. Providers have to eventually take care of the quality of the goods provided because sub-par products get replaced easily and their market share will be grabbed by their competitors.

4. Mass production helps reduction of costs of production. Reduced cost of production provides the makers with a scope to attract buyers with better offers.

To put it straight Consumer (customer) is the king.

The Flip Side of Consumerism: On a weekend I would rather beat my coffee than beat around the bush. Coming straight to the point Consumerism encourages unnecessary consumption that has no impact on the life of the consumer if omitted. Simply the attraction to the colorful advertisements, the urge to show off, inferiority complexes brewing inside, insane levels of idolizing the celebrities makes people purchase the things which they certainly don’t need. From a fairness cream to a hatchback everything is pushed down the consumers’ (unmindful ones, whose number is multiplying fast) throat, making them believe – this will change your life for good. And when such demand arises it has its own negative points, hard to neglect:

1. Increase in conspicuous consumption results in multiple fold production which means more stress on resources, more waste disposal, more pollution.

2. Purchases made to show off an elevated standard of living often leads to financial crunch situations. Easy availability of credit cards / online shopping methods inspiring more such conspicuous consumption.

3. The psychological impact to keep up with the hollow standards of beauty, fashion, lifestyle is pushing people to depression and anxiety.

Can there be a “better” Consumerism? Considering how the whole concept of consumerism works if the onus to promote “good” goods is taken up by the producers that can make a great impact. For example, if healthy eating habits can be promoted via bio/organic products, made available to every stratum of the society possible, that could mean something because after all health is wealth. If celebrities are conscious about the brands or products they are promoting they will be doing a great service indirectly to the people who follow them blindly.

Role of Consumers: With the information on every product thrown at our face available consumers should educate themselves and be well informed before making any expenditure. It’s a matter of health – be it physical or psychological and of course hard-earned money!!

Consumerism is all about consumers and how they are influenced to buy. And they buying run the economy of any nation. So why not scale-out the thorns and keep what’s good and beneficial. We as a society need to move from conspicuous to conscious consumption.