Simplistic Slowdown – Marketing In a Post-Conspicuous Consumption Age

Shopping Season or Cutting Back?

As you know, this Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, when consumers, fresh off their tryptophan trip, gobble up as many bargains as possible while trying not to be crushed by a mosh pit of rabid retail wranglers.

Or not.

After all, people’s mindsets have changed. If you’re a marketer, you’d better be aware that mindless consumption and diamond-encrusted toilet bowl cleaners don’t make consumers swoon as much as they used to.

Simplistic Slowdown

It’s called Simplistic Slowdown, a new wave of deliberate consumption that favors the cordial over the crass. You can see this at Etsy.com, any craft fair, or your local farmer’s market. Has it affected everyone? Not quite – and not yet. But the trends are there. Here’s what to look for:

  • Backlash Against Bling – Hummers and McMansions are crass showcases of another time and are no longer fashionable. As a marketer, be aware of the kind of image you’re projecting. Being big should not be the goal. Being the best should be the goal.
  • Purposeful Accumulation - Stuff isn’t altogether out; no one is becoming an ascetic monk here, but the stuff that is purchased is to have a purpose and functionality about it. “It’ll be a good season,” says one retailer at the 2010 Seattle Gift Show, “so long as we remember that people are buying for necessity and utility more than luxury.” Think utilitarian here.
  • Slower Experiences – Instead of getting a bunch of cheap stuff quickly, the focus now is on a richer experience with fewer items. Luxury now is about time, not stuff, so the oak chest that was hand-carved is more of a luxury item than that diamond-encrusted necklace.
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