Buying Habits in Conformity With Social and Psychological Dictates
“When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?” —Ecclesiastes 5:11.
The mass production and aggressive advertisement in our times have resulted in an onslaught on the consumers, couching them into a more selfish and insatiable relationship with the material goods.
Mass Production and Mass Consumption
The concept of consumer culture may be technical for some people. Simply put, consumer culture describes how our economy is influenced by our buying habits and the pleasure we derive from owning things. Market dynamics, advertisements, social dynamics and purchasing power all contribute to our buying habits. It is also important to mention that there is a two-way traffic here, that is to say, our economy affects our buying habits and our buying habits affect our economy.
Because of mass production of industrial products, there is a need for a mass consumption. All spanners must be thrown into the works to create the needed market. The producers do not produce necessarily because there is demand for their product, rather, they produce because they know they will make people want, if not crave for, their products. Because of this, there has been remarkable attention to advertising. Most of these ads engage psychological mind games, entertainment, sponsorship of social activities, etc. The focus has changed from presenting information about a product to attracting the attention of the consumer; from introducing a product to seducing the potential customer. In some of them, there is a hybrid of information and entertainment, giving rise to the coinage, “infotainment.” You are entertained with the aim to arrest your attention and in the process, inform or be reminded you about a product.
The financial fraternity has joined in to lubricate the wheels of consumption. Credit facilities, usually in form of credit cards, are available just for shopping. These have enabled people to keep pace with the trends in the consumer world. Because of all these, a good steward needs to be disciplined. He must cultivate a strong personality to resist being ‘hypnotized.’ He must have clear guiding principles to help him manage his relationship with the material world vis-à-vis the trending consumer products.
A good steward must also resist the lure of using the credit facilities without certainty of paying back at the right time.
Though there are people who are impulsive in buying things, some are structured and predictable. Basically, there are five factors that influence our buying habits:
i) Buying things because they are on sale;
ii) Buying things because they are trending;
iii) Buying things because of status and image;
iv) Buying things because of their utility and necessity;
v) Buying things because of their aesthetic value.
We will look at each one of them in turn and see how they influence our relationship with the material world. We will notice that first we need to be conscious about something and then, we need to work out means of managing it. Usually, we get so used to the culture around us that we may fail to scrutinize it to see if it might have elements that breach our commitment to the pursuit of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.