Consumerist People: What Are They Like?

Consumption is a common activity in our society. Large companies already offer us the possibility of creating wish lists. In fact, this is just one of the many mechanisms they have to encourage us to buy.
Consumerist People: What Are They Like?

Written by Elena Sanz

Last update: 10 October, 2022

Advances in technology have allowed us access to a wide range of products quickly and easily. These are the kinds of items that make our lives easier in many ways but also invite us to indulge in an irresponsible consumption style that damages both our economy and our health. For this reason, it’s worth asking: what are consumerist people like?

Most of us are consumerist people, to a certain extent. It seems practically inherent to the environment in which we’re immersed today. However, there are those who have made consumerism a lifestyle without realizing the negative consequences that it can have.

What motivates consumerism?

Over time, various definitions of this concept have been given; but, in a general way, we can define it as the tendency to acquire products in a cumulative way and to buy goods and services that go beyond our needs. Obviously, we all need to dress up occasionally, or even have a cell phone, but do we really need to buy so many clothes or get hold of the latest phone as soon as it’s released?

In reality, we can’t really blame ourselves for this consumer trend. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to its appearance.

Contributory factors

  • The consumerist society emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to industrialization and increased production. As we mentioned earlier, from this moment on, it became much easier to have access to a multitude of products quickly and easily. This trend has continued to rise.
  • The constant bombardment of advertising to which we’re subjected encourages us to consume, regardless of our real needs. Sales and neuromarketing techniques are also becoming more efficient. Furthermore, thanks to the fact that we’re now permanently connected, exposure to these messages is practically continuous.
  • There’s strong social pressure to buy and consume goods and services. In fact, the idea of success and happiness has been linked to the ability to consume, and this affects all of us to a greater or lesser extent.
  • Payment facilities are offered, such as coupons, promotions, loans, and credit cards.
  • Certain dates have been established that revolve directly around the acquisition of goods and services. Indeed, at times of the year such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or the famous Black Friday, consumerism skyrockets.
  • Many of the products that are generated are of low quality and have a short duration. For example, with fast fashion. This forces us to constantly be acquiring new goods.
Woman looking at shopping packages
A consumerist person measures their value by the possessions they own.

What are consumerist people like?

Bearing in mind the environment we live in, it’s difficult not to be seduced by the suggestion to tirelessly buy and consume. However, there are individual differences and some people are especially prone to these excesses. Although each case is different, here are some of the qualities that characterize consumerist people:

1. Their identity is linked to their possessions

As a rule, consumerist people directly relate their worth to their possessions. They feel that the more they have and the more they acquire, the more successful, worthwhile, or important they are. For this reason, they may tend to show off their possessions and judge others based on the same criteria. ‘Having’ becomes all important.

In addition, many of these people link their identities with certain products. This is quite natural, since one particular important marketing strategy is the linking of a brand with a certain ideology, values, or lifestyle. Thus, when we buy it we feel that we become part of that group. In effect, we identify with the idea that’s been sold to us. Apple is one of the greatest proponents of this idea.

2. They tend to compare themselves

Since they attach great importance to purchasing power and possessions, consumerist people use this criterion to compare themselves with the people around them. They feel that they must have everything that society dictates. For instance, the best smartphone, the best vehicle, the most fashionable clothes, etc. This means they feel frustrated and dejected when they see that others have something that they lack.

3. They use shopping to regulate their emotions

This is one of the most significant characteristics of consumerist people. Indeed, they resort to shopping to deal with their negative or uncomfortable moods. Just as there are those who turn to food, compulsive exercise, or substance use, these people feel better when they’re buying and consuming.

However, as in the rest of the examples, this kind of well-being (induced by the release of dopamine and serotonin) is only temporary. In fact, when it ends, feelings of guilt may appear thus increasing the initial discomfort.

4. They’re impulsive

Finally, consumerist people often have a lack of impulse control and experience difficulties in planning, organizing, and foreseeing consequences. They’re driven by immediate gratification and can end up in debt or in huge financial trouble because of their impulsiveness.

Woman shopping in an online store
Normally, consumerist people tend to buy on impulse to experience a feeling of immediate gratification.

The consequences of consumerism

An excessively consumerist lifestyle not only affects personal finances but also mental and emotional well-being. That’s because the overvaluing of material possessions suggests that we’re disconnected from who we are and our real worth. Purchases might be made in attempts to fill emotional voids or to overcome inner conflictive situations that we don’t know how to handle.In the most severe cases, it can lead to real addiction.

If you’ve identified with any of the previous points, it may be a good time to start making changes. You might want to even seek professional help if you think it’s necessary.

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