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Quite often I hear people complain about being a slave to consumerism, and the “evil corporations", and large brands monopolies. However, some things are unavoidable, they have a default result because eventually, they become another chicken and the egg scenario. Most things are a matter of perspective, subject perceptions, and attempts at moralizing our decisions to remove guilt.
For example, complaining about plastics and big oil while still buying plastic products and paying your electricity bill is contradictory. You have to ask yourself, can you survive without your appliances? I am sure you can, but will you?
On that subject, a side note, until we are able to scale alternative materials and energy becomes sustainable, that change is going to take some time. We all want a better planet, but we all agreed to mine primary materials so we can have our gadgets and whatever. There are companies trying to fix all our plastic and energy problems, but it won’t happen overnight.
Is consumerism bad?
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That depends on how bad you feel about spending money, and do you love the brands you buy from.
Brand loyalty isn't something that's dictated, consumers create an association with a product and service experience they like, by default forming trust that the brand has surpassed their expectations. The illusion of choice is a default result of brand and business success, it's unavoidable. However, it can be disrupted by upcoming brands on their way to becoming giants.
Consumerism is a choice, by the consumer. Brands tell us what we want every day because of their research into the needs of people, one individual will never dictate what those things are. People buy into brands every day, some may rebel against corporations, but the smaller brands they support will become big brands eventually.
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No one goes into business to not make money, and we can moralize that however we feel...but good business means growth, which creates a reputation, and ultimately brand definition.
Everyone is a consumer of something, consumerism is only a problem for those who can't figure out how to rationalize their own subjective perception of buying.
Everything is a suggestion, you don't have to buy it, but a savvy agency has shown you a benefit of a brand and its offerings, and you bought into it. Marketing is always in play, some simply make you feel less guilty about spending your money, but the great ones give you great value for spending your money.
You need to clarify what value means to you as a consumer.
The consumer is not supposed to feel the marketing strategy, that is not good marketing... Some people prefer brands on the lower end of the market instead of buying from flagship brands. A consumer shouldn't be thinking about the lack of depth in market research...if you're thinking about that, as a consumer, then you're buying into the wrong brands.
There’s nothing wrong with commodity businesses, a commodity is still an offering. If you’re buying on price then you will always buy from the cheapest selling the same thing. Some people will suffer through horrible services if there are fewer service charges or more free giveaways. Others will happily pay more service fees for better service.
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There is a status, a feeling if you will, that's associated with whether you can be one of the few who can afford to pay more for something. People always want to show their favourite brands off to others.
If you say you want value as a consumer, define what that means to you. Consumerism is why organizations aim to improve their services.