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  • Writer's pictureHuman Resource Development Cell, SRCC

Dynamics of Consumerism

Consumerism is a defining feature of the modern world, which has drastically changed over the years. To fully understand the significance of consumerism, let’s understand its development throughout the years. Many experts pointed out that the modern concept of consumerism began in the late 1600s in Europe when consumers started to become more capricious rather than being loyal. From this point, the entire domain of consumerism just escalated throughout the 1700s and 1800s and instead became a phenomenon that is now called upon as Conscious Consumerism. Many factors could have contributed to it, but among all, two events that must have played an important role were being, the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Imperialism.

These factors comforted the consumers by providing the availability of diverse options, which turned the consumers into an entirely different animal, unrecognizable from the good old days. Such a seismic shift in consumers’ mindsets turned the whole concept much more complex and extensive. They have made life more difficult for all such marketers and analysts trying to understand the growing complexity and diversity of the concept. Throughout the years, a lot of theories have come into existence, explaining the same, but no one has been able to summarise it properly and it has become more of a hit and miss method.

From all such cutting-edge trends and theories, one point that comes into consideration is that the fundamental change in consumers is due to the fact being that the environment around them is evolving, coming with more diverse options available at competitive prices as well as the economic constraints. Nowadays, the consumers prefer experience associated with their product, and all those marketers and firms succeed, who provide an experience in exchange for their product.

For instance, considering the strategy for many successful brands and companies like Nike, in a few of their stores they provide the experience to their customers to customize and design the footwear as per their preferences, such collaborative effort boosted the experience the consumers desired for. It is evident from this instance that such experience-driven production can cut through the diversity of consumerism. Other than that, the ethical aspect of any company could prove to be a path-breaking strategy, like such purpose-driven companies have built their empire based on that. Considering the example of Whole Foods, which was successful in building a friendly reputation, as much of their stock was produced from local farmers. Such initiative helped many small and marginalized farmers who already suffered from competitive price taking in the market.

Now, the main purpose of such firms should be to make their products a lifestyle for the whole of consumerism, and considering that the TAM(Total addressable market) also comes into consideration, like whom the firm wants to target, as for new firms to target intelligent consumers, who has a lot of prior experience in purchasing a product category or the ones who could be easily lured into the products in comparison to the latter. Such factors must be considered from the mindset of a marketeer.

Considering the current situation, when the entire world was struck by COVID – 19, it undoubtedly disrupted the entire routine of day–to–day life. While such disruption proved to be hard-hitting for the entire world economy, it presented a rare moment, as studies show that it caused consumers to change their behaviors and beliefs about a wide range of daily activities. For instance, in many countries, it was for the first time people tried grocery delivery during the COVID – 19 crisis, or extensively tried in-home exercise which paved the way for the online fitness market. Likewise, a certain major percentage of consumers tried a different brand of the store for shopping, thus breaking the stubborn attitude in their habits, which many companies were challenging for a long time. Thus, the pandemic diversified our understanding of the concept that such trigger could provide the consumers with newer experiences, with which they are willing to change the long-held ones, and this is the unique moment in time for companies to reinforce and shape behavioral shifts to market their products and brands.

In similar terms, companies need to shape the emerging habits among consumers, for instance during COVID – 19 consumers became more aligned towards healthy products and became more conscious of minerals they intake, and thus, companies can take the advantage of such peak situations. Likewise, packaged food companies can inculcate the habit of eating at home by providing ready to eat especially when restaurants and cafes are closed. Such habits when developed have a much high percentage of continuing even when the economy starts reopening in a slow and phased manner.

Thus, all such arguments explain the dynamic structure of consumerism, including the factors for such diversity as well as the exceptions in real-time which makes the extensive understanding of such dynamic consumerism of utmost importance.

- By Ajay Swaroop Sekhri

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