Tag Archives | consumer culture

The Death of Brands

Adbusters_CorporateAmericaFlagThe always insightful James Surowiecki says that successful brands can no longer rely on past success as consumers care less and less about what brand they are buying, writing for the New Yorker:

Twelve months ago, Lululemon Athletica was one of the hottest brands in the world. Sales of its high-priced yoga gear were exploding; the company was expanding into new markets; experts were in awe of its “cultlike following.” As one observer put it, “They’re more than apparel. They’re a life style.” But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over. Lululemon’s founder made things worse by suggesting that some women were too fat to wear the company’s clothes. And that was the end of Lululemon’s charmed existence: the founder stepped down from his management role, and, a few weeks ago, the company said that it had seen sales “decelerate meaningfully.”

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess.

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11 Percent Of People Say They Shop Online Naked

shopping

Via CNET News, I’m not sure exactly what this says about our relationship with the consumer items we purchase:

This is the ultimate in capitalist freedom. How many people, though, will actually admit not only that they shop online in the nude, but they actually like doing it?

According to a survey commissioned by PayPal, a resilient and courageous 11 percent confessed that, yes, there are few things as likable as shopping starkers.

In essence, therefore, there may be a certain lifestyle segment in the US that drinks and takes its clothes off, then lies on the sofa or in the bath (or elsewhere), in order to have the perfect online retail experience.

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Study Suggests That Fast Food Logos Weaken Our Ability To Experience Simple Joys

mcdonaldsdisasterVia the Raw Story, a study suggests that corporate values have so reshaped our thinking and behavior that merely seeing a fast food symbol renders us less able to derive joy from nature scenes and music:

Focus on time efficiency could be making the small things in life harder to enjoy. The research, published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found people exposed to fast-food symbols were less likely to find pleasure in beautiful pictures and music. The research also found those living in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of fast-food restaurants were less likely to savor pleasurable experiences.

House and his colleagues decided to examine fast food — and McDonald’s in particular — because it “has arguably become the ultimate symbol of time efficiency.”

In their first analysis, which included 280 participants from the United States, the researchers found greater fast-food concentration in one’s neighborhood was associated with reduced savoring of emotional responses to enjoyable experiences.

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King of the Zombies

dawn-of-the-deadWhile George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was originally panned by critics in 1968, the film has gone on to wide acclaim — it jump-started modern zombie cinema, and also mixed-in dark social commentary about the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s.

Romero’s 1978 follow-up, Dawn of the Dead, didn’t suffer a sophomore jinx in the series — everything from the script to the acting to the production values are cranked-up. More importantly, this is the film that defines the zombie of today as a metaphor for American consumer culture run amok.

In keeping with my latest spook-tacular posts, I’m happy to point you to George Romero’s other classic, Dawn of the Dead. If you’ve seen the film before, enjoy it again. If you’re a newbie, get ready to see where the Zombie Apocalypse really began.

Stay Awake!

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I archive all of the videos I curate at Insomnia.… Read the rest

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Remembering The Barbie Liberation Front

An ahead-of-its-time covert shopdropping (the opposite of shoplifting) endeavor, in which the mass produced toys sold to children were "corrected":
The Barbie Liberation Organisation was an organization that caused a significant cultural jamming intervention in 1993. Having purchased many Barbie dolls and GI Joe action figures, the group switched the voice boxes from a pair of dolls (one from either group) and then placed them onto store shelves. Customers who purchased the toys were surprised to find gung-ho, combat ready Barbie dolls or effeminate GI Joes that were more interested in shopping than shooting.
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The Deeper Meaning Of Shopping

shoppingShopping and the consumerist impulse are lambasted as empty and selfish. But the New Left Project has an entirely different, novel view of consumerism:

Shopping is usually a collective act. Most of the time it is done in groups, in families or with friends. Much of our consumption is for other people; or we have other people in mind when we’re doing it. In the supermarket, we buy for our families. In the high street, teenagers buy the same clothes and music as their peer group. Consumption by children and adults is driven by a sense of what we need to keep our collective lives together; and by the way in which owning the same things as others gives us status amongst our peers.

In their effort to reformulate progressive politics, many on the left have called for the creation of a `post-consumer society’ in which more noble values than shopping lie at the centre of British life.

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Durban South Africa, Friday Night at The Movies: We Can’t Escape The Tensions Around Us

Soweto. Photo: Michael Toft Schmidt (CC)

Soweto. Photo: Michael Toft Schmidt (CC)

It’s Friday night, and the motorways are packed with cars heading for the mall. Here in Durban, the Gateway Mall is the destination of choice. It’s huge, the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s stuffed with stuff, much of it upscale, calling itself a “theater of shopping.”  (It is actually built over what was once a dump.) The parking lots are packed with late model cars, many of them high end.

I have to confess, I was invited there to see America’s latest high culture import, the 3D version of the movie Transformers 3, based on a toy and cartoon, in a modern movie complex with 18 theaters and rows and rows of packed gates where you line up for endless popcorn and soft drinks.

Business was booming; the theater was full. Most of the crowd seemed to be whites and Indians but there were also many blacks now firmly anchored in the consumer life style.… Read the rest

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