The difference between needing and wanting has changed. In the past people bought products because they needed them; however by time, wanting has become the new needing. Purchasing “new goods and services with little attention to their true need, products origin, durability or the environmental consequences of manufacture and disposal” has become the new way of consuming. We do not consider why we are buying a certain product or a certain service because we feel that we need it. From a producing world we have shifted into a consumerist world.
It is not about the culture, nor the tendencies of personality. With globalization and marketing people have forgotten what it is to buy what you need instead of what you think you need. The goal of marketers both local and international is to come up with marketing strategies through researches that would draw more customers to consume their services and products. According to Marken (n. d), “Consumerism has changed the rules of the game and produced the need for new strategies. By using the new rules to your advantage, you’re sure to end up on the winning side.
” Marketing has taken over everything. Companies that had failed to develop effective marketing strategies end up losing to more successful businesses. To be able to construct a marketing strategy that will be helpful in their undertaking, they have to bear in mind the needs and wants of their target market. In a global context, more extensive researches are conducted to satisfy the needs of the market. It is not only the companies that have to adapt. Consumers also adapt to the changes in the market by responding to the offers.
Consciously or not, the consumers had been manipulated to want the newest products in the hope that they will have a better life. Marketing has raised consumerism to what it is now, and has affected every one–male, female and even young kids. People in this country acquire goods even just for the sake of acquiring goods. This culture of consumerism, many people claim, will lead to the demise of the American society – both as they use up limited resources and abuse the capacities of their minds and body.
But no matter how needed a change in the pattern of lifestyle and values may be, such will not easily take place. Consumerism is a historical phenomenon, its dynamics embedded with a number of social factors and historical events. In fact, it is social development in American society, both materially and ideologically, that gave rise to consumerism. The 1920s is usually identified as the dawn of consumerism. By this time, the industrial revolution had reached its fruitful stage, and mass production, mass distribution, and thus mass consumption are easily imagined and implemented.
Indeed, that was what the owners of large industries and corporations set out to achieve. In order to do these, they designed new systems to control the full processes of production from the raw materials to the finished product. Together with the material reality that faced America in the 1920s was the marketing tool found in psychology. Advertisement campaigns are the core of this decade, shaping the mentality into one, which seek fulfillment in consumption and glorified it. The public was enticed to buy for the sake of buying more than anything else.
The advertisements offered whatever one needed, wanted or just lacked. Perhaps there can be no clearer situation that demonstrated the power of advertising than during World War II. Even at a time when the nation was actually being frugal, living with recycling and rationing, advertisers worked hard to maintain the same level of consumerism. During the World War II, Americans supported their government by helping the nation economize, either by growing food in their own garden or by recycling resources for other productions.
During the war even though there was not much to sell or not much available sources to buy anything, advertisers would still work on their campaigns. As everyone waited for the war to end, there came the excitement after the war. As the war ended, people were ready to forget and get back to their lives as consumers. New products were introduced during this era like aerosol spray cans or nylon. Such new products caught the attention of the consumer and created a cycle; newer products increased the willingness to buy more.
One important factor that facilitated the continuity of consumerism well into the middle of the 20th century was the strategic targeting of women as main consumers. When the war ended, the family became a central part of society again, and women were pushed once more into the homes to become the dutiful wife and mother, integral to rebuilding a healthy and thriving society. The domestic role that woman had for years, and the baby boom after the war were great reasons to create new products and reasons to buy them. The increase in pregnancies and births after the war resulted in the focus of advertisers and producers.
New baby products from toys to food, from clothes to books were introduced to the market. And mothers were pressured to have the best and be role models. With men as the ones who earned, women were the one who spent the money; and they spent it according to their role against men. Aside from consuming products for becoming the ideal mothers were the products for being the ideal wife and ideal housekeeper or the ideal woman. Since the early 1920’s consumerism has shifted with the help of marketing and mass production.
Women who bought only their necessary needs, like cloths to make their own clothing, or meat that would be enough for the day for the whole family, went into buying the brand that stood ahead. Instead of making clothes for themselves, or having it made for them, people started to buy mass produced clothes from stores. As the quantity of items displayed in stores increased, the competition began. And there came the marketing department. The distinctions of branding, the ad campaigns, the photo shoots and the change in the concepts of beauty, need, and want are all what advertisers and marketers did.
Changing one’s perception is not easy, but it is done everyday. Women who were just wives or mothers were now woman standing against their husbands or fathers. They had the opportunity to relieve themselves from their duties and add a little for their own. Now they had the opportunity to buy what they wanted or thought they needed. They had choices for kitchen appliances or furniture designs. Each magazine they bought had suggestions for fashion, make-up and hair, or for their family members. And each suggestion had one thing in common, the fact that it has to be purchased.