Are we at the end of consumerism?
I doubt it, but we are starting to see a shift in how people are spending their money and their levels of resilience.
If we look at the time period 1950 to present day, then much has changed. A generation that experienced rationing during the war are mostly in their later years, they may well be in receipt of both company and state pension, but are unlikely to be spending large amounts of money on household goods, clothes.
The next generation, now predominately in their 50s, may well have seen their children purchase their first house, have grandchildren and find themselves knocking about in a house that is comfortably-furnished, probably a little on the larger side than truly required, have the mortgage paid off and with the shed, garage, attic and even possibly the back bedroom crammed with stuff.
A visit into any of the above, often ends up being a trip down memory lane, remember the Kodak disc camera, or the tapes that used to go into the early video cameras, then there will be the album upon album of 6×4 photographs; all no longer held by the dried-out-sticky-plastic over-sleeve.
The generation after this starts to become very interesting; now in their 30s, they have no recollection of houses without colour TV’s, computers, central heating, and any number of gaming devices, kitchen gadgets to make life easier, whilst preparing dishes whose origins are from far and wide. Put simply, this is the first generation whose reference structure from childhood is likely to be one of if we want it we can have it.
But what are people turning to, if it’s not getting the latest thing? There are reports and evidence in the slowdown of sales for the latest smartphone models when released, retailers are and have been for some time turning to innovation to keep potential customers engaged, but people are realising that the innovation is for innovation’s sake. Has our appetite for the latest thing passed? Well evidence is showing increasing interest in buying ‘experiences’ .
Time is a precious commodity when it’s gone, it’s gone, I was sitting for 15 minutes the other night, waiting to get off a motorway junction. Yes that’s right, 15 minutes in a queue half a mile long on the hard shoulder!
People now want more for their time, they are indulging their hard-earned money on having an experience. Out is the latest lawnmower; in comes paying someone to come round once a month to cut and treat the lawn, in the time saved; we go out, pay to stay a night in a tent ‘glamping’ so we can see the shooting stars at night, listen to the wind and be greeted by a cow mooing over the fence in the morning. Yes I am buying the experience, without all the stuff needed to do it. I have de-cluttered… or at least, not added any more clutter to my hoard. I am free to move onto the next thing, because, ladies and gentlemen, here is another facet of modern life. I don’t want to stick with any one thing for long, my attention span is short, I want variety, choice, indulgence but what about resilience? The ability to resolve things that don’t quite go right first time, ot to expect instant results or to get more understanding and become part of the community engaged in the effort. Don’t worry about all that I will just move on, I am here for the experience, to say I’ve done it, to fill my boots with experience. I have the selfie to prove it. Without all the stuff.