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Effects of Consumerism and Advertising in USA

Consumerism and Advertising – Introduction

Consumerism is an economic theory that states that a more and more increasing magnitude of utilization and spending is beneficial to the consumers. All the way through the 1800s and the Industrial Revolution, the globe, has been consuming at rates that are higher than ever before. The Industrial Revolution ensured availability of products in large quantities for the maiden moments since time immemorial. The products were relatively cheap and were availed to every individual. Owing to the unlimited access, soon there was an era of Mass Consumption. Soon people were all buying the latest models of the newest devices and gadgets available as people were buying the more modern appliances based on their appearances other than function and as a result consumption. Planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence are the primary kinds of production that are contributing to the excessive consumerism in the current America. Planned obsolescence is where companies design products with the aim, or rather driving force that the people will be having the need or the wanting to throw away only after a short while after purchase. Perceived obsolescence, on the other hand, is driven by, “keeping up with the Joneses” (Stearns, 2006). Companies, in this case, use adverts and gimmicky newer models to convince the consumers that they are in need of the new paradigm.

Effects of Consumerism and Advertising in USA


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Consumerism is economically portrayed in the continual buying of new purchases including goods and services where only a little attention is accorded to the real need, durability, origin of product or even the environmental dangers of the manufacture and disposal of the said good or service (Wright & Rogers, 2011). Consumerism is controlled by the huge quantities that are spent in producing adverts designed to develop a desire to follow the current trends as well as the resultant personal self-reward system that is controlled in regards to the acquisition. Materialism is seen as an example of consumerism’s result.

Consumerism indeed alters the normal working of the society as it replaces the ordinary common-sense longing for a sufficient supply of life’s provisions. Consumerism also interferes with the community life, with the stable living of families as well as the good relationships. Consumerism interferes with these using an artificial continuing and insatiable expedition for things and the money to acquire them with modest consideration for the factual usefulness of what is purchased (Montgomerie, 2007). The intended consequence is, promoted by individuals who mint profits from consumerism, to accelerate the removal of the old, either due to lack of resilience or a change of style.

Consumerism is one of the most grounded powers influencing our lives in the present day world. The expression “consumerism” does not just allude to prompt variables in our day to day lives, for example, the ubiquity of promoting, however anything associated with the larger thought in our advanced society that keeping in mind the end goal to be more content, better and more fruitful individuals we need to have more stuff.

Development of Consumerism in the U.S

After the end of the Second World War, the soldiers in the American army returned home to find a country that was quite different from the country they knew and had left behind just four years earlier. The production during the war has assisted in bringing the American economy up from the depression. As from the late 1940s, the young adult citizens were able to record a massive growth in their spending power as jobs had increased and were plentiful; the wages they were receiving was high and owing to the inadequacy of consumers during the war and as a result, Americans had a quite high desire to spend.

The period after the war, consumer spending did, anymore, rely on just having a satisfaction for a lenient material want. The American consumers, in the 50s, were so devoted to the more, newer and better. This was in reply to the economic revival that came after a decade and a half of being depressed and the war was dependant on a self-motivated mass expenditure economy.

Americans were now investing in items that were based on family life and home life. During the period of the end of the war, most consumers desired televisions, cars, refrigerators, and the likes: these were machines that would readily modernize the lives of the consumers. The values that were associated with the domestic spending upheld the initial American concerns with the pragmatism and principles instead of the affluence and lavishness. Buying goods for the homes assisted in alleviating the traditional American unease when it came to consumption since the fear of expending would eventually lead to profligacy. The next was the cars and TVs whose sales automatically skyrocketed thus promoting the suburban populace. The automobiles were much needed that they had been demanded way more than how they were during the first-time buyers. Similarly, families were buying televisions at a much higher rate than they initially did (Barber, 2008). Additionally, the television provided a compelling medium where advertisers can easily reach inside the homes of the Americans and create desires for their products.

The American federal government saw the new consumerism as an avenue through which they could deemphasize class differences while stressing traditional gender inclinations. With the things that were defining the good life that was readily available economically as the working-class individuals would attain the increasing mobility, they had always wanted.

In a way or the other, Tupperware was like a shatterproof for the ideal of the proficient home and kitchen. Tupperware was assisting housewives in ensuring freshness and cleanliness when it came to food preparation and storage. Tupperware was the other avenue through which the natives would fulfill their desire for consumer goods after the war.

Consumerism and Advertising

People are exposed to advertising via a large variety of sources. Most of the sources are openly recognizable such as TV-Radio ads, internet ads, stickers and even billboards or signs ads. There are some other adverts that are not easy to spot, and the best case is the product placement in films. For instance, a popular film might incorporate the lead actors and actresses using particular brands of items or goods from a given manufacturer. The manufacturer pays for their products to be used in the film. The most famous of all product placement ads was the incorporation of the American chocolate sweet known as Reese’s Pieces in the ET film in 1982 (Sturken, 2008). Owing to this placement, the sales of the Reese’s Pieces sweets went up by up to sixty percent.

Product placement aside, marketers use a wide range of tools to get the consumers do things. These are tools that are not readily recognizable to the ordinary target clients unless one is an insider within the adverts industry. Advertising is one of the influences that promote consumerism (Abela, 2006). The various forms of advertising ensure that the consumers engage in more and more spending.

Apart from the obvious advertising pages on newspapers and magazines, there are also pages that have stories about appliances, laundry, makeovers, property, and travel among other many topics. All these are suggesting that having the items or the services will ease life and make it more interesting and fun to live. The stories convince the consumers that the goods or services being talked about would bring freedom and a lot of positive change to life. The stories may be written in a way that they do not directly promote a particular item but still manages to create desires in the readers and targeted consumers. There is also the use of celebrities to promote spending among consumers (Etzioni, 2009). Newspapers, magazines, and even websites publish stories about glamorous celebrities that the consumers then aspire to emulate, and a good percentage of this aspiration is because the public desires to consume the same things as the celebrities.

Effects of Consumerism and Advertising

Exposure to a particular advert can be as powerful to influence the decisions or activities of an individual. Without this fact, companies would not be spending millions on advertising. However, when we are presented with a huge number of commercials a day (as have been the case since childhood), and consumerism is advanced in a large portion of the mental inputs we get, this can trap us inside a consumerist bubble and can form our whole perspectives – our yearnings, perspectives, ways of life and numerous different things (Stavrakakis, 2006). The genuine force of consumerism originates from its aggregate impact – the way that it has saturated each part of our lives, and that these components of our way of life constantly fortify each other.

A portion of the impacts of consumerism on us is what one may anticipate from a society that advances consumption. Individuals find themselves in cycles of needing more things, and the quest for more things consumes their time, vitality, anxiety and cash in some cases cash we do not have thus promoting debts. Individuals, additionally, always contrast themselves and other individuals either genuinely or invented, needing to resemble them or in their position. This leads one to a condition of invariable disappointment – people are perpetually discontent with what they have and are dependably nervous. What is more, this is exactly what the rationale of consumerism needs, as it makes us more dynamic shoppers on a constant basis. In this way, consumerism not just influences our conduct (we invest more energy in consumerist exercises), additionally, our reasoning (our yearnings, mentalities, and perspectives).

This circumstance can be to a great degree hard to escape from, as there are not very many disagreeing voices on consumerism in advanced society – the standard thought of what it is to be “moral” still does not fuse getting away from the consumerist trap. Any individual battling with their consumerist way of life is, along these lines, unrealistic to get comprehension, direction or backing from standard society or friends on the off chance that they are, as well, submerged inside this standard society.

There is a huge number of individuals who feel this feeling of disappointment in their lives yet are not ready to recognize its cause or escape from it. Despite the fact that consumerism is by all account not the only motivation behind why one may feel disappointed or focused on, proof is working among psychologists that holding an unequivocally realist values orientation is, all else being equivalent, unfavorable to psychological prosperity.

Consumerism does not address our issues and needs. There are individuals who may trust that consumerism meets all their cravings in life. However, for an expanding number of individuals it does not. It makes incomprehensible desires, the standards it depends on to make it a coherent invalid possibility that it will make us upbeat (Blaszczyk, 2009). On the off chance that the possibility of consumerism is to ceaselessly make new needs in individuals and make them devour more, this will bring about us continually pursuing a carrot on a stick. In spite of the fact that we may achieve it now and again (e.g. by purchasing a specific item), another “carrot” (i.e. need) will then show up. An absence of satisfaction is along these lines incorporated with the entire thought of consumerism. This is not shocking – if the framework is not directed to addressing human needs and interests, but rather at creating benefits, then it might be a matter of great fortunes that it winds up doing the previous.

The second point takes after this: consumerism is not able to give large portions of the things that are imperative to us. This perspective is upheld by late studies in the new discipline of ‘human prosperity’ which is increasing expanding enthusiasm from government officials and other prominent individuals. It can extensively be depicted as the investigation of what fulfills people and satisfies them, and the yearning to construct political and social frameworks in light of advancing these things (Whitman, 2007). Put another way, the economic markets and consumptions are capable of fulfilling people’s essential needs, considering areas like shelter and food, but there are other vital things that they cannot just offer. Research portray that consumerism is consistent with the well-being of people.

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  • Barber, B. R. (2008). Shrunken sovereign: Consumerism, globalization, and American emptiness. World Affairs, 170(4), 73-81.
  • Blaszczyk, R. L. (2009). American consumer society, 1865-2005: from hearth to HDTV (Vol. 30). Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Etzioni, A. (2009). Spent: America after consumerism. The New Republic, 17.
  • Montgomerie, J. (2007). Financialization and consumption: an alternative account of rising consumer debt levels in Anglo-America. CRESC Working Paper Series.
  • Stavrakakis, Y. (2006). Objects of consumption, causes of desire: consumerism and advertising in societies of commanded enjoyment. Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism, 83.
  • Stearns, P. N. (2006). Consumerism in world history: The global transformation of desire. Routledge.
  • Sturken, M. (2008). Memory, consumerism and media: Reflections on the emergence of the field. Memory Studies, 1(1), 73-78.
  • Whitman, J. Q. (2007). Consumerism versus producerism: a study in comparative law. The Yale Law Journal, 340-406.
  • Wright, E. O., & Rogers, J. (2011). American Society: how it really works. WW Norton & Company.


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