In many aspects, consumer capitalism has been a blessing to the world. A market-driven economy is capable of driving innovation, a customer-centric service, and most importantly competitive prices, allowing the world to enjoy better yet more affordable goods and services, through competition.
If we can take all that and use it with a wise twist, we can get the best out of consumer capitalism. There are however many facts why being a smart consumer is not an easy task.
In an economy where the “real need” is turned into a “want”, and where we are every day reminded through agressive marketing that our value in society is highly dependent on the brands we wear, the cars we ride, and the architecture of the residence we live in, it becomes very natural to gradually turn into a brain washed machine and respond to the consumerist vibes sellers and advertisers are trying to send our way.
But in a world with increasingly limited resources, and an almost irreversibly devastating global warming, we are more than ever responsible of putting our impulsiveness aside when it comes to acquiring new goods, and taking a moment to thoughtfully answer some important questions.
– Do I really need this item? How many times will I use it? With the resources I have, can I alternatively buy something more useful to me?
Again, it is our real need that should reign in our purchasing decisions. Often, a real need is psychological, and it is totally fine to fancy or regale ourselves with quality products that make us feel good about our body, looks, and overall lives. The point is to ensure defining our real/priority need, and avoid being entraped in a never ending shopping spree with devastating financial and psychological consequences.
It is a very sad part of consumerism, when our appetite becomes insatiable, which, psychologically, is an easily attainable state, since human minds usually function in an adaptive way, quickly get used to a new item, and start looking to get pleasure from a newer one. Avoiding this state involves an active appreciation of what we have and the real added value of having something new.
– How benefitial to me is the product I am going to get from this place, or buy from this brand?
The McDonald’s and the alike of fast food chains often rank on top of an evil list of pure for profit and mindless brands, but we also forget that, for example, in the case of food, it is not just about choosing the restaurant but also picking the right cuisine. Some cuisines are factually and scientifically healthier than others. Items on a menu are also granular purchasing decisions that can make all the difference.
Finding yourself starving in front of a McDonald’s and having it as the only food provider option in town is a realistic scenario that has probably happened to most of us. But how often did we really think of picking a salad from that Mc’s menu?
How many times do we take time to research whether a brand we buy regularly has had a decent history of ethical manufacturing.
Choosing a product wisely becomes a matter of practice and habit. Fortunately and oddly, It only takes a few minutes of meditation to make an objective and conscious decision.
– How honest does their marketing or package seem:
Has this deodorant really been voted product of the year as the package mentions? What does product of the year mean? Who elected it as such? How objective was the election process?
We might not always get all the answers straight but practising a mindless consumerism is not an excuse in 2014 where we are more than ever connected and capable of debunking an advertising scam.
If for any reason a business is bluntly trying to fool its customers, then we are responsible of actively collaborating in its failure.
It’s not worth our money, time, and most importantly our trust, and no one should really worry if a brand we love disappears if we boycott it; it will eventually be replaced by a new player that learnt to value customer transparency from the failure of its predecessors.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing- Edmund Burke.