Do you know what “consumerism” means? According to its textbook definition, consumerism refers to the idea that owning and obtaining everything you desire in excess of your basic needs is good for society.
This economic theory has existed as early as the 18th century during Britain’s Industrial Revolution. With the advancement of machinery, more products have become available in the market. Today, you have probably seen this term on your social media or online articles wherein people talk negatively about it. But is consumerism really that bad for us?
Let’s take a look at the bigger picture and explore its role in modern society below.
The Prevalence of Consumerism
Have you ever spent hours on Instagram looking at influencers promoting certain products, memberships, or services? Well, that is one of the most common signs of consumerism. Celebrity worship is a formidable contributor to consumerism, as it creates a cycle of purchase and consumption.
Notice an increase in the production of luxury brands? The act of purchasing products as a symbol of power and class is another sign. Consumerism is prevalent in many economically developed countries. It can be observed by simply looking at the saturation of advertisements of different products and services on various— if not on all— forms of media.
This signals that the mass production of goods exists. Sadly, even the huge growth of people’s debt is also a sign that the culture of consumerism is present in society.
Some economists believe that the constant purchasing of goods and services by citizens is beneficial to society as it can help boost production and grow the economy. When there is a higher demand for specific services or goods, better economic output and more job opportunities will be created.
In turn, business owners, workers in the industry, retailers, and owners of raw resources can accumulate wealth from the sales of consumer goods and services. As people profit from those sales, it also helps continue the cycle by allowing them to have the means to make purchases as well.
When there is a rise in consumption and spending, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grows and drives the country’s economy forward.
Creativity and Innovation
This demand will also increase the revenues of businesses and encourage competition, which allows the production of a variety of products, goods, and services. Competition lowers the cost of most products, driving companies to come up with better and more innovative output at a lower price.
Ever noticed how different smartphone brands keep coming up with new models and innovative features at very competitive price points each year? In that sense, the need to stand out benefits people by giving them more options as more products get released each year.
Improvement of Living Standards
As companies continue to innovate, the quality of life for consumers also greatly improves. Consumerism drives companies to meet the needs of people and grants them access to better, more innovative products. The dedicated reviewers at Regionvavid.org encourage consumers to be critical about the benefits and disadvantages of specific products and services by providing helpful information through comprehensive reviews.
As more choices become available for consumers, advertisements and different knowledge-base platforms will help people stay informed about the existence, values, and qualities of a product or service. This helps people weigh in the pros and cons, make better purchasing decisions, and avail products or services that best suit their needs and preference.
Quality of life is an indicator of people’s happiness and when these needs and preferences are met by specific products or services, people are generally happier.
One of the biggest criticisms of consumerism is how it harms the environment. Mass production exhausts natural resources, requires an excessive amount of energy, encourages the use of toxic chemicals, and causes pollution. As more people become more aware of the irreversible impact of consumerism on the environment, this led to the existence of green consumerism.
Green consumerism encourages companies to create eco-friendly business practices and processes. This includes a reduction in waste packaging, efficient use of energy, and decreased release of emissions and other pollutants during the production and transportation processes by using clean fuel and renewable energy sources.
Green consumerism is also believed to help people gain access to eco-friendly products or services that are better for their health.
Consumerism is notoriously known for its negative impact on the environment and people’s lifestyles in general. However, it is also good to remember that consumerism provides career and business opportunities for various people.
It is also a key contributing factor in the rise of product innovation, product variety, and the overall improvement in the quality of life of both developed and developing communities alike.