What is consumerism?
The protection or promotion of the interests of consumers is the google definition. We are victims of consumerism every day. From flicking through social media to reading a newspaper, even just walking down the street, we are always being fed adverts and ways to encourage us to spend more money even when we least need it.
Consumerism can be seen in a good and bad way. Firstly, we need people to advertise and promote businesses so more people can see what is new. People will see these advertisements and get drawn into buying the product, the more people that buy, the better the country's economy gets. Consumer spending makes up about 70% of economic activity in the United States. Consumerism also creates an increase in jobs. More factory workers and engineers are needed because of the higher demand for products also as mentioned people will be needed to advertise the product.
However, there are many downsides to consumerism, the first being the amount of pollution it causes to the earth. We are currently overusing Earth’s natural resources with more than 70 per cent. With this statistic it is estimated by the year 2030 there will be 5.6 billion consumers, this will lead to the destruction of most rainforests, fish will be extinct and there will be a lot of pollution. Another downside is the treatment of workers, as the demand for products increases companies need more employees to make their products. However, companies want to reduce the labour cost so they will set up factories in Asia and Mexico. These workers will work long hard hours for little pay and work in dangerous environments.
Social media and consumerism
The latest social media statistics show that there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021. That is just under 50% of the world population with each person averaging about 7 social media accounts. Facebook is the most used social media with over 2.7 billion active users. Instagram and Twitter are the second and third most used.
With the number of people on social media, it's no surprise companies are willing to advertise their products. 73% of marketers believe their advertisements on social media are very effective for their business. In 2017, it was estimated by digital marketing experts that the average person sees between 4,000-10,000 adverts a day and this number will only keep increasing each year, Facebook made a staggering $69 billion from advertisement revenue in 2019 whilst google made $134 billion in 2019 alone.
How do social media companies get us to buy?
Advertisers and companies pull us in easily because we are all on social media for one reason, to make us look like our best possible self, and one social media that does it best is Instagram. Founded in 2010 and taken over by Facebook inc in 2012, Instagram has over 1 billion users worldwide.
However, there is a part of Instagram that no other social media has more of, and that is influencers. An influencer is someone who is paid to promote products, from clothing to food and luxury items. Companies will approach someone, mainly someone with a big online presence with lots of followers, and pay them to promote their product. The influencer's followers will see them advertising the product, they will want to go buy it because they want to be exactly like them or, all they want the next 'in thing' to show off to their followers so they can get more likes.
Another way companies get us to buy more is because buying online is so easy. There are hundreds of apps on which we can order clothes, food, and lifestyle products on. No one wants to go outside to shop anymore, we know this is true because high streets are dying year by year. More than 8,700 British chain stores closed in the first half of 2021, this was due to the Covid pandemic and everyone moving to online shopping. The UK found out how easy online shopping was during knockdowns, Amazon’s UK sales jumped 20% in 2021, up 82% on pre-pandemic levels. This alone shows why stores are closing at a rapid pace.
These two points and many others show how we will click any link to buy something that was advertised to us or try out hardest to be like other people just for a few extra likes from our friends. Companies will pray on us because we have a social media addiction and they know they can get our money if they advertise correctly.