ConspicuousConsumption and Sustainability: enemies or far cousins? The disposable income ofconsumers has been increased as a result of which the purchasing power has alsogone high. Also effective advertisementsand strategies adopted by the marketers generates the false need and anxietyeven if it is not there due to which the consumer is lured to purchase. Maslow’shierarchy of needsThe above pyramid showsthe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Itstarts with the basic needs that are required to sustain life. As we ascend in the pyramid we come to theEsteem and self-actualization which means that what we purchase is the functionof our status. It means that we can dowithout some goods but just to show superiority and status we purchase what we don’tneed.When we purchase goodsand services just because of the luxury associated with it to display ourpurchasing power and social status then it is termed as ConspicuousConsumption.
Conspicuous consumptioncan be vaguely classified into two parts – personal and governmental.Personal consumptionincludes consumption of goods and services like high end jewelry, status symbolgoods like high end cars, mobile, silverwares, electronics, pets etc. The services include expensive holidays spentat tourist resorts, during New Year people having high income moving to thoseplaces which will see the first Sun of the New Year, availing high end servicesand consumption products at international cuisines and chains, cosmeticsurgeries, lavish weddings etc. Now-a-days status is given so much importance that the parents sendtheir children to the most expensive school available.It has been proved thatthe increase in consumption is not due to latest fashion trends but due to undueimportance given to status symbol.The conspicuousconsumption of fast foods and restaurant items has increased exponentiallyowing to the fact that the nuclear families have increased and both the parentsare employed which leads to more stressed life and as a result of which parentstend to spend less time on household chores. As a result of this the parents prefer to eat out thinking that thismight reduce their stress a bit, but this habit of consuming unhealthy food isaccompanied by various drawbacks like obesity etc.The governmentalconsumption includes projects such as the bullet trains, utilization of thenatural resources, certain experiments like the space missions, spending duringelections, spending on warfare activities etc.
Apart from increase indisposable income the other reason for the increase of conspicuous consumptionis the availability of wide variety of choices and lack of satisfaction of the consumer. Like the rise of the e-commerce sector,consumer can get thousands of varieties of product on his screen and he canselect based on his preferences and the reviews available from the previouscustomers. Also there are variousattractive schemes like the big billion days, the Independence and the Republicday schemes, the cash back offers when the purchase is made via the credit anddebit cards, launch of new mobile etc.
all this factors inflate the minds ofcustomers with need and customer is tempted to make the transaction. Also the incorporations of consumerprotection rights and return facilities reduce his worries about thegenuineness of the product. One thing to note is thatevery overspending is not a conspicuous consumption.
Like if you are spending on organicvegetables instead of on normal ones then it is for the sake of your own healththen it is not a conspicuous consumption.As a coin has two sidesso does conspicuous consumption.Benefitsof Conspicuous ConsumptionThe main benefit ofconspicuous consumption is that the optimum utilization of the factors ofproduction takes place and as a result the overall economy of the country rises.
This reduces the unemployment of thecountry. The other factors includeincrease in competition which leads to more efficient manufacturing processes. Also as the specific need leads to customizationit also increases the creativity and innovation.
Customer gets enoughnumber of varieties from which he can make a wise choice.It uplifts the life styleof consumer.On the global part thetrade between the countries increases which helps in adoption of new processes.It gives a chance todeveloping countries like India to call international producers to come andproduce on its soil, mainly due to cheap labor, and thus adding to the economy.
Also increase in demandin the work force gives rise to woman employment, thus uplifting them. Demeritsof Conspicuous ConsumptionIt induces the rat raceeffect in which the consumer carves to earn more and this in turn increases thestress levels.The consumption leads toincrease in utilization of natural resources thus depleting them. This includes deforestation, depletion of theozone layer, increased carbon foot prints, unseasonal rainfalls, melting ofglaciers, extinction of some species.
The increase in use ofelectronics causes the increase in its wastage also and this is a major threatto mankind as till today we have not developed an effective method that leadsto proper disposal of the wastes generated.Cheaper goods beingimported from other nations will impact the local producers and they may ceaseto exist.Personal relationshipscan be at stake as materialistic happiness is given importance.