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Understanding Consumerism: A Study in Change

Consumerism is a term that we frequently come across in our everyday discourses, a term that everyone is acquainted with but a term that can hardly be limited to its deceptively simple understanding that one encounters. A market changes every second and the most dynamic feature of the market is its consumers. The market sees substantial changes every minute, a change that is wrought by several factors, factors both intrinsic and extrinsic to the market. 

As the country continues to grow and its economy experiences new changes, consumerism is constantly shifting to accommodate the changing realities of society. The past several years since independence have seen unprecedented and exponential growth in the Indian economy. This has caused the per capita income to grow markedly resulting in a steady and significant rise in consumption expenditure especially in cities with broader professional scope. With an increase in expenditure and the consumer’s ability to spend more, the economy is expected to have consequential reformations that could lead to further changes in consumerism.

With a greater population participating in the economy, women becoming an integral part of this mechanism and an increase in people’s choice for a better standard of living and an upgraded lifestyle, people have begun to spend more, causing the economy to have an inflow. As contemporary lifestyle takes over the days of the past traditions, nuclear families become the expected and conventional familial existence. As has been seen, with more number of nuclear families replacing joint families, the consumption increases causing a greater overall expenditure. The time of conservative spending has now been taken by a narrative of separate spending. 

With the advent of the internet, people have greater access to information and this has played a crucial role in creating a pronounced impact on consumers. Consumers make informed choices now, well aware of the products they purchase, helping them get greater satisfaction from their spending. With the internet being a central part of existence today, people have started to spend more as avenues of online shopping have become an everyday reality. 

The changing facets of consumerism have a direct correlation with the world of corporations who strive to offer what the consumer desires to expend on. With positive growth in consumerism, conglomerates have started to leave behind traditional and conventional knowledge to adopt a faster, digital model of business that includes within its folds the wide possibilities of e-commerce. Corporations are developing consumer strategies based on principles of modern consumerism to increase their outreach in the public. The need then is to work on new principles to grow, not restricted by the age-old ways of running a business but taking into account the way consumerism correlates to the growth of a business and an economy. 

Research has shown that the companies have grown relentlessly in the past two decades as a result of the changes in consumer behavior that have caused greater expenditure on consumer and durable products. Diverse environments have differing impacts on the consumers’ behavior and researches have been conducted to study and analyze these patterns to create an idea of future consequences. Social, cultural and familial are some of the factors that have a major impact on the dynamics of consumerism.

And yet all this discussion comes to a halt in the current scenario of unexpected reality. Covid-19 might have become a slow and gradual reality but its effects are likely to be long-lasting and consumerism will be hit hard. Several trends have been seen during the time of the pandemic which is a vivid representation of changes in the consumers’ attitude. There has been a complete switch to online platforms for every aspect of life, from everyday needs to major requirements. Mobility has been changed with a culture of work-from-home causing a change in the patterns of commute. Value for money has increased as people now spend carefully instead of squandering money, one of the foremost impacts of the pandemic. All these aspects are interdependent and create an overall impact on consumer behavior. Risk exposure is seeing changes that will affect the corporations’ thinking of expanding their scope.

A consumer is ever-changing, never constant and this is the principle that governs all aspects of the market. Consumers react to changes in the market and these changes can be in the form of a cultural, social or economic impact that could have a potentially important impact on the consumers. The economy today has a diversified consumer base seeking satisfaction from different sources thereby increasing the horizon of the consumer market. Because of the heterogeneous structure of society, the consumer market is playing with its options to meet the multifarious needs of people. 

In the story of the market, the consumer is the most important character, a role that can’t be replaced by any other factor. Studying the economy fundamentally involves unearthing the ways in which the consumer and the market relate to each other, a relationship that is often obscured by other factors. But delving deep, one finds a direct relationship relating the two. Without the consumer, a consumer economy would obliviate. Studying changing consumer values has garnered greater attention over the years to allow corporates to understand what is in need and to work towards providing it, in the process increasing their spread. 

Consumerism is a dynamic idea, a concept that knows no constancy making it impossible to make a concluding statement on it. Consumerism, as it stands today, is perhaps very different from what consumerism would be several years from now. But the allure lies in trying to decipher this altering concept, for it might be unlikely to completely understand consumerism but understanding its dynamism is the only way to getting an insight into the core of how an economy functions. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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