November 26, 2008

A Conscious Consumer: An Oxymoron?

by Melissa the Marinade Maker

From a tender age, we all have been told we are unique; we are individuals possessing special characteristics and skills not common to others in society. Although many refuse to define themselves as based upon consumer products, it is extremely difficult to enact a complete separation between products and who an individual "is." The blatant question is this: Is the individual simply a product? Many would argue no, as any human being with even a moderately functioning brain is able to distinguish themselves from the products they consume for the sake of daily life, yet others assert that society is very uncritical and lacks the proper analytical skills to create such a separation between the being and the product.

The media have employed techniques, efficacious techniques, that have created a "consumer frenzy" in every possible venue of life. Newspapers, magazines, the radio, and lo and behold, television itself, have all been extremely effective and extremely profitable modes of consumer-mania. Debate has raged about the quantity of advertisements each individual is exposed to on a daily basis, some claim roughly 1,500, while others claim figures in the hundreds. The actual figure is irrelevant in that the bottom line remains that commercials have invaded every crevice of life, with commercials assertively advocating products ranging from savory, delectable chocolate to shampoo that renders impassioned screams in the shower. It is unarguable that the very function of a corporation is to generate revenue, utilizing the means necessary to ensure a sustainable market demographic. However, what is bothersome is that the individual is unable to venture for themselves and find a suitable product without it being portrayed as an absolute "must-have." The psychological implications of such advertising are ostensible: consumers passively expect to have everything presented to them, as opposed to being an informed and pro-active consumer. Rather than unconsciously absorbing all the advertisements being propelled, the consumer ought to make purchase decisions based upon individual discretion, as opposed to simply what the commercials tell them. Thus, the lack of personal opinion has resulted in commercials hindering a conscientious consumer.

Historically, commercials have played a vital role in the U.S. consumer market. The early to mid-20th century consisted of commercials that revolved around the suburban lifestyle, catered specifically for women to purchase the newest, most desirable kitchen and cleaning appliances. With the onset of the 1980s, commercials reached a newfound peak and horizontally diffused into all possible marketable venues, developing even further demographic specializations on a global scale. Specific examples are not needed because advertisements ranging for any possible product, be it peanut butter to car models, all create a must-have frenzy for that particular product.

For those of you still reading, this blogger asks that you be a conscious, analytical consumer, for the sake of your wallet and for the sake of your mental welfare. Yes the latest model of this or that may seem alluring and highly appealing. However, think for a moment if it is necessary, and if so, if you are making an evaluated decision. After all, a conscious consumer can make for a less manipulative market. Thank you.

(Graphic from, which offers its material for free.)

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