The Term Consumerism
Consumerism refers to an economic and social order that encourages the purchase of services and goods in vast amounts. The term consumerism is sometimes used to criticize the act of consumption. In addition, the term is used to refer to consumer protection, consumer movement and consumer activism, which endeavor to inform and protect consumers by requiring thing like honest advertising and packaging, improved safety standards, and product guarantees. To this end, consumerism comprises a set of policies that attempt to regulate services, products, methods and standards of sellers, manufacturers, and the interests of buyers by the advertisers. Therefore, the intent of this essay is to analyze different arguments by different authors about the topic of consumerism and its effect on the society.
Consumerism Contributes to the US Economy
Consumerism is fundamental to the society, since organizations must produce goods, and consumers must buy the services and goods. In this way, Consumerism contributes to the US economy and accounts to $13.8 Trillion of the Gross Domestic Product. In most cases, it is from selling and buying process of consumer based products (World Fact Book, 2008). Due to the monetary benefits, marketing of these goods and services is vital for the sector to flourish. Marketing strategies capable of convincing people must be adopted in this scenario. The marketing is therefore, crucial, for the survival of most businesses and corporations both in the advancement and making of profits. With time, the strategies of marketing have evolved into psychologically purposed complicated ways of manipulating and convincing the perception of the consumer (Schror, 13). As these corporations advance the marketing strategy, they check on the social trends of people concerned and concentrate on the groups with the ability to create power and money. As the years proceeded this focus has been laid on the children.
According to Arnett (12), individuals who tend to be materialistic usually do not find comfort in many things. As a result, they tend to try to satisfy their low levels of well-being by engaging in impulse buying. Materialism has been found to be related to unhappiness. Materialism expends the vigor to love, learn and live, and instead of offering happiness, it delivers strain and stress. Therefore, materialism mostly develops among people who have less esteem and have feelings of insecurity.
Behavior of Impromptu Spending
Donnellan (43) further explains that if an action prompts spending in any environment, a materialistic individual is likely to respond quicker in the activity than a person who is not materialistic. Consequently, the behavior of impromptu spending due to the materialistic attitude is deemed to have harmful personal and social repercussions. A more detailed analysis relates materialistic concerns as directed towards simply viewing desirable goods. Baker found out that advertisements increased the level of consumerism in materialistic individuals as they responded to advertisements more quickly. However, the materialistic attitude was found to have negative effects on individuals and decreased the level of social involvement in individuals. Donnellan (48) concluded that repercussions of materialism are not limited to materialistic individuals, but any individual can be affected by consumerism in the effect of any advertisement or stimulus, only that materialistic individuals were affected more by consumerism.
Children as an Easy Lure
Marketers see children as an easy lure and capable of convincing their parents to buy them certain goods and services. In this way, advertisers enhance predilections of children for particular products. Here, they aim at significant physiological points purposed to sub-consciously or consciously change their perceptions (Hubert 4). Several of these marketing organizations misuse the convincing ability to shape their adverts to use children to make more sales. Children are more vulnerable in being used to boost sales given that they lack the reasoning ability like that of an adult. Kukathas (32) explains that there is a correlation between customer needs, purchasing behavior and consumer values. Social affiliation contributes to a large extent the level at which children engage in the purchase of products. The level of advertising was found to have a direct relationship with the cultural elements of individuals.
Increasing the Level of Advertising
Increasing the level of advertising also increases the level of consumerism. Therefore, the study conclusively identified that perception; emotions and culture of certain setting are often affected by advertising as well as the manner of presentation made by the producers. Most adverts that included child figure had a lot of influence in the mind of the child. In addition, the design and strategy of advertising increased consumerism and, consequently, the recognition of the brand image of management on global markets.
Over the past years, children-directed advertising has risen exponentially. $6 billion dollars was utilized in 1992 directed towards children advertising. By the year 2006, this number doubled to $15 billion dollars on an annual basis (Schror 14). These staggering rates increase indicate that most organizations have faith in strategies of marketing. Thus, they are in continually investing in this marketing to maximize their profits through massive sales. Kukathas (48) argues that in the recent past, consumerism has been accorded the required attention, and its impact on people’s lifestyle and cultures should be analyzed properly. The factors affecting consumerism in many areas have been propagated by the individual’s upbringing, as well as the income of the individual. Families and individuals with less income do not engage in consumerism as they only engage in expenditures that meet their necessities. Other factors that affect consumerism in different places and settings are sports, music, fashion and technology. Many children are fans of sports, especially football, and anything associated with football will be of a high appeal. This puts the family with meager resources under pressure by the demands of children. For instance, fashion leads to increase in consumerism in the sense that most individuals try to acquire the latest fashions in order to fit in the society. As a result, they end up spending more in the name of fashion.
It is estimated that children view more than 40 000 commercials on a regular basis in any given year. These commercials have their basis on gender, race, or age and in this way are able to affect children viewers in a bigger way. According to Schror (19), a one and ½ year old baby can identify logos and brands and by the age of 3 years, the children can associate themselves with given brands. Therefore, they attach features of personality to the brands. These personality features are power, intelligence, or coolness.
Relationship Between Historical Origin and Modern Origin of Consumerism
Arnett (42) argues that a majority of individuals usually have a desire to purchase goods due to leisure and services. He endeavors to explain the relationship between historical origin and modern origin of consumerism by identifying Africa as the continent with a majority of the individual’s renown for it. Many children in Africa are mostly influenced by what is advertised. Most of this adverts are from the developed countries, and the products advertised may not necessary be of meaning to children. This is because of the deep rooted traditions and endeavors to keep up with the latest fashion. Consumerism can lead to international threat due to the induced demand and it becomes worse if the producers cannot meet the required demand.
Analysis on Statistics
Analysis on statistics clearly indicates that by the time they start schooling these children on average have like 70 toys and are capable of identifying 200 brands. By the age of 6, boys are involved in violent games, while the girls are immersed in the famous culture (Schror 19). These immersions have adverse effects like identifying oneself with goods and services and, thus, demand for the possession of these products.
Values of these children change in accordance to the information communicated to them through various advertising channels applied. Therefore, large organizations use their will, influence, power, and money to change the society through adverts and change of value systems. They instill a fresh factor to the children who will go to an extra mile to use the products. These marketing strategy, uses peer influence and factor of acceptance to make children believe that by buying the products, they will feel accepted. In this way, advertisers use the surrounding mental view to connect with the social aspect of these children. Since the average adult can think critically dismissing the lures, for a young kid they may be lured easily into these products (Gorman 43). The marketers want these children to dismiss their own values and fully accept the values in the advertiser’s formulation structure, which is wrong and unacceptable. In the current society, these upheld beliefs most of which are from adverts are immoral in line with being superficial.
The beliefs are immoral in the manner that they do not regard people and their genuine concerns. In contrast to being caring and concerned, the involved individuals act in consumption obsession and rush. In this way, the values of children are assumed and manipulated, while the concerns of the marketing institutions are favored. Children concentrate more on material things, turning back and failing to credit the intimate aspects of life like friendship and family. To feel acceptable, children wear particular products of particular popular brands. Moreover, these kids admit liking kids who possess distinctive clothes or games (Schor 34). These kids’ conception shows complete emptiness and confusion in living to buy their own self. Brands and products replace the once held morals and self-definition.
In compromising with these values, the children involved develop insecurities and psychological difficulties creating a barrier to their adulthood as they are unable to find satisfaction and happiness through these possessions. This retarded development and growth hinder them from acting in response to hard conditions. This is due to the fact that they cannot relate hard decisions with the fundamental decisions. Thus, these children seem to be forever tied to their childhood, even if it is in the past when they are of old age. The health of the child is also at risk due to diseases like obesity, heart attack and kidney failure. In the last 30 years, the obesity cases occurrence in ages between 6 and 19 has tripled. These data correlate to fast food marketing and incorporation of these foods, into organizations dealing with fast foods (Hawks 63). These corporations bring out the impression that fast foods are fantastic and refreshing to be consumed. So many children will go for these fast foods rather than adopting a healthy diet hence putting their health in jeopardy.
Espejo (31) argues that consumers tend to engage in consumerism through the notion of aesthetics. His research investigated the relationship between consumerism and aesthetic amongst different classes of people including house wives, teenagers and children. Most families were found to purchase items that were luxurious and classy to hide their feelings of low self-esteem, preserve their individualism, and maintain an artificial comfort to their children. The use of aesthetic of consumerism generally leads to engagement in purchase of unnecessary items, but due to their perceived importance, due to cultural relation or social class, consumers find themselves in the act. Consumerism is also well linked to the cultural relations. For instance, he examines a few samples, which include advertisement of milk and some fast foods like weetabix and cornflakes. Espejo (47) identified that advertisement of these items led to increase consumerism depending on the attachment individuals had based on the culture or the class the item is deemed to belong to. Therefore, aesthetic consumerism is possible and exists depending on the things individuals attach to the products. A family that consumes weetabix and sausages in the morning as breakfast is considered modern and exposed, while the one that millet porridge is considered primitive. In such a scenario children embrace unhealthy lifestyles and also force parents to comply with their demands.
Consumerism in the contemporary world is full of public policy issues. The policies endeavor to regulate the purchasing behavior of consumers, and ensure that producers do not use this as a means of committing customers into excessive spending. The policies are mostly implemented by the government and organizations that are concerned with the interest of consumers. The policies include product safety, anti-trust concerns, promotion, consumer satisfaction, disclosure of consumer information and competition. Most of these policies have been presented to producers to ensure interest of buyers in prioritized. For instance, advertising prompts consumers to purchase items they had not planned for. This leads to producer competition for a large clientele in marketing. Hence, they use advertising to mislead families, children and other consumers.
Consumerism has a negative impact on the society. As much organization wish to make their profits and make progress in business, they should put the affairs or concerns of the children being brought up. All advertisements being put to the media should be censored to ensure that the future generation is well secured.