A consumer society views the consumption of material goods as the principal feature of its stability and values. The central principle of a consumer society is to buy products more than needed, or rather more than one can use. Marketing professionals ensure that they influence the consumer in buying their organizations products. It is perceived that advertising corrupts the society via the products of consumer culture, even more, they give a false conscious of the needs that later evolve into a way of life. (Laura & Dan, 2015) Consumer society has developed from an industrial background to that which we are in today. We have moved to a more materialist world. The more resourceful a person is the better he or she can survive in the society where he or she wants to be a part. On the other hand, poorer people who cannot afford the luxurious end of the market become disengaged from the society (Suaib, 2014). This essay will examine whether or not a consumer society is right. Furthermore is will explain how it impacts on human health and wellbeing
It is noticeable that consumer society is not a healthy society because it promotes a highly extravagant behavior. People waste money on products that they do not need. Advertisers and big businesses work tirelessly to create an environment favorable to impulse buys. People spend time searching for a new thing to buy other than thinking of ways of reusing the things that they have at present. Most of the times, consumerism leads to over- production of commodities, which ends up draining the valuable energy and resources, and further contributes to the greater amount of waste bags and plastics in landfills and oceans (Pierre, 2012). In addition to that, today there are various trading tactics that encourage consumption, like credit sales, which always lead to debts among consumers. This usually happens to people who are fond of shopping (Rosando, 2011).
Secondly, consumerism is manipulative. It tries to manipulate us in adopting views on how we should live rather than letting people decide for themselves. Communications and advertisements in the consumer society go way beyond their function, because they attempt to influence people into making specific decisions. Modern advertising is no longer about informing people about the existence of a product; for example, reacting to an existing needs or wants that someone might be having. It is about creating wants and requirements that we did not have before seeing the advertisements. In other words, consumer society creates false needs and desires in us through manipulation. This shopping persuasion of products attempts to create (false) feelings of displeasure in people, and it is an aggressive effort to exercise power over consumers. This psychological aggression is equal as spiteful to physical assault whose effects can be harmful. (Lifesquared, 2009)
Lastly, consumerism restricts peoples options and lives. Even if consumerism met our needs, it would be an unacceptable philosophy to our society. This is because people need to choose the lives they want to lead and consumer society prevents this. In a broad sense, consumerism may be seen as a view of good life- a view that says that life is better when you have more market goods like services, products and activities (Eduado, 2014). This picture comes about as a result of different factors like the desire to get economies recover from the Second World War, and the yearning for growth that is inherent in our global economic system. Consumerism is entirely inappropriate for it is a system that inhibits our capability to see options available to us in life and make choices. The reason for this restriction is that is has become an immensely powerful force with influence across most regions of society and our separate lives (Nelson, et al., 2008).
Despite the negative impacts, consumer society enables people to have tremendous choices at the market place. It has led to the development of specialized stores for every possible activity or interest. Commercially, consumerism allows brand differentiation where a particular product can be sold under numerous names. Besides making good money for businesses, consumerism allows healthy competition in the market place which works to the benefit of economists, corporations, and capitalists (BBC, 2015)
Consumer society has enabled general improvement of health status. This has been made possible through the redefinition of the food culture. Todays consumers are very much pro-active and progressive in their approach to wellness and health. Advanced wellness consumers are paving the way to improve health by sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with ordinary consumers who are eager for direction and guidance. (Swenerton, 1982) The society is no longer thinking about situation management (blood pressure or lower cholesterol) or dieting, but they are focused on fresh, less processes food, really quality food, and positive nutrition. Currently, people have moved from purchase and use perspective; this means shifting from diet products, 100 calorie potion packs, and diet products to kale, quality fats and fresh fruits (Forbes, 2015).
Secondly, consumerism has made health marketing a huge success. People acquire health information from various sources including friends and family, product labeling, national campaigns and the media. This marketing strategy creates awareness of health risks and information on action to be taken to improve health. For example, local health improvements and clinics, seeking immediate advice or help through telephone help lines and home remedies for general infections or illnesses. Health marketing has enabled the society to be cautious of their sexual health. For instance, international campaigns have ensured that people understand dangers of unprotected sex and also the benefits of using condoms to reduce risks of unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. (Zones.Sk, 2016)
Lastly, consumerism promotes the prevention of lifestyle diseases like obesity, cancers, and diabetes. There are cross-government campaigns that create awareness of the health risks of being obese. These campaigns also include strategies on how to take through diet as a primary prevention and also to exercise in cases of crisis management. On cancers, there are many consumer guides that discourage intake of foods that may be cancerous. These guides give alternative options of the carcinogenic foods that prolong the customers lives and the reduce cases of cancers. In general, there are multiple campaigns that promote health such as antidrug campaigns, primary disease prevention campaigns, and healthy lifestyle campaigns among others. (Europa Environment Agency 2012)
Evidently, consumerism has provided the society with improved health status, successful health marketing strategies, prevention of diseases, a variety of goods at the market and healthy competition. However, it has created significant negative impact on consumers through; encouraging extravagant behaviors, manipulate peoples lifestyle and disable people of their decision making skills. To this end, it would be extreme and unrealistic to assign consumerism a bad or good tag since it has its good side and bad sides as discussed above.
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Europa Environment Agency., 2012. Living in a Consumer Society. [Online] Available at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2012/articles/living-in-a-consumer-society[Accessed 17 April 2016].
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