Reducing Runaway Consumer Buying

Advertising is everywhere.  Its purpose is mostly to increase consumer buying.  Some advertising purports to educate you, but in the end the purpose is to induce you to buy their brand, support their cause, or think their way.

How much advertising we are exposed to depends on the person.  Estimates published on the Internet vary from 247 to 5,000 advertisements per day.  If you watch television, approximately 25 minutes of each hour will be advertisements.  Radio is similar.  Then there are billboards and signs on stores, busses, cars, trucks, food packaging and clothing that advertise someone’s product to others.  “We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive at the Kaplan Thaler Group, a New York ad agency.

The net result of pervasive advertising is that we begin to think of things like cell phones as fashion accessories and feel that we must always have the latest and greatest of anything we own…as well as owning a great many things that we don’t really use.

This is a vastly different mindset from that of America a few generations ago.  During the Great Depression Americans were experts and reusing and repurposing everything they had.  Before that: when people began settling the Appalachian region, people made most of what they had.  Getting supplies from the East into these mountains before there were roads and railways was difficult and dangerous.  Settlers brought the bare essentials with them, then used what was on hand to make what they needed.  By trading amongst themselves they could have what they needed without having to make everything themselves.

Some of us still treasure generations-old cast iron cookware or power tools from the 50s and 60s that were built to last – and did.  Today too many products are designed and manufactured to be disposable.  The manufacturers want them to wear out so you will buy them again and again.

Some will argue that consumer buying is the driving force behind our economy and to keep the economy strong we must all do our part by continually buying as many consumer goods as we possibly can.

Excuse me?

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