You wouldn't imagine them in a bar talking but they all have one thing in common: they all stopped to think why we need to own and consume as much as we do.
So much has been written about consumerism, minimalism, and so many people resonated with Marie Kondo’s decluttering techniques but in the end, when you’re looking down at that 10€ shirt you bought at some random shop during a long weekend somewhere, and you just can’t let go cause “it still looks good”, we have a problem...
The truth is we’re very fickle when it comes to consumerism and I blame it on Netflix up to a certain point.
Netflix completely changed how we consume content and it’s making us more and more like that kid behind you on a plane screaming and kicking… annoyingly demanding.
Someone raised a great point by saying that if we’d ask people to watch an 8h movie they’d think that’s crazy but when the latest season of Bridgerton comes out, people are glued to the tv for 10h straight without flinching and they're even begging for more at the end. And there’s enough content to keep you glued to your tv for months on end, if not years.
Algorithms that know us better than our moms and today's hyper-personalized content
As we rely on the digital space for more and more things, and algorithms get better and better, everything we do online is analyzed and used to hyper-personalize our experience, making us more prone to “casually bump into” interesting content and get hooked.
A great example of this is, again, Netflix. Did you know that even the thumbnails you see are customized?
Let’s say you want to watch Fight Club for the millionth time (wouldn’t blame you) and you search for it on Netflix. If you’ve recently watched a Brad Pitt movie, the thumbnail will show a version with Brad Pitt as the main character, whereas if you’ve just watched an Edward Norton movie, your thumbnail will show him as the primary guy. Crazy, isn’t it? Also, it’s not dependent only on what you’ve just watched, it varies depending on your online activity and viewing habits in general.
The level of customization we experience is actually down to micro-moments which according to Google, are intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping that occur throughout the consumer journey.
Remember how in Disney movies and old stories, the characters often walked through a forest and someone from the shadow leaves little clues to digress them from their natural path?
Like that, except without the talking animals and handsome heroes that save the day.
Consumerism today versus 10 years ago
However, it’s up to us to be aware of all this because it’s not just them, it’s us too. We expect these uber-personalized solutions. We’re upset when we complain on social media and nobody replies to our cry for hours. We complain about their customer service and label the company as indifferent.
It's gotten worse recently. After years of living in uncertainty and with many limitations due to the pandemic, we aim for “more, better and cheaper” because we’re more conscious of how quickly things can change.
Kind of like a “why the hell not, I’ve been cooked up for 2 years” mentality.
According to Forrester “fear around physical and financial health, along with tempered optimism for a post-pandemic recovery, will compel consumers to find brands, products, and experiences that provide an immediate — even if temporary — sense of happiness, comfort, and relief. “
That rings more truth now than ever. If retail therapy was popular and glamorized in movies before, today it’s reached a whole different level. Studies show retail therapy boosts morale not only due to the sudden rush of joy, but because it also restores a sense of control. Isn't that interesting and also a little sad at the same time? I can't judge though, shopping retail got me through some dark moments but I digress...
I guess that as long as Amazon Prime will still grace us with same-day free delivery, it's only natural we impulse-buy, we're only human. Much like muscles, we choose the path of least resistance.
Even so, buying a table for the terrace before your morning coffee, and expecting it to arrive before the day ends, is pretty sweet... and a bit sour.
Mahatma Gandhi once said "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs but not every man's greed". And that was before the TV became mainstream and the internet was created.
But that’s just me… thinking out loud.