Tag Archives | Consumerism

Chinese Billionaire Sells Line Of Canned Fresh Air

Has the final step in the marketization of everything been reached? Oddity Central on selling bottled fresh air as a luxury item to residents of urban and industrial areas:

It’s no secret China has a huge air pollution problem. Chen Guangbiao, a famous Chinese businessman and philanthropist, has recently launched a line of canned fresh air collected from various parts of China and Taiwan. The product is called “Chen Guangbiao: Nice Guy” and sells for about $0.80.

He has recently started selling canned fresh air collected from “revolutionary” areas of China, including Jinggang Mountain in Jiangxi Province and some ethnic minority areas and Taiwan. ”One only has to open the can, directly ‘drink’ it or put the nose close to the can to breath deeply,” Chen said.Before the big launch of ”Chen Guangbiao: Nice Guy” canned air, Brother Biao said he was confident of its success, because there are lots of people in big cities inhaling air mixed with vehicle exhaust every day who are dying for a breath of fresh air.

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On The Validity Of Alienation

David Graeber, expert on anarchy, debt, and history, explains your feelings. Via Tower Of Sleep:

The idea that alienation is a bad thing is a modernist problem. Most philosophical movements—and, by extension, social movements—actually embrace alienation. You’re trying to achieve a state of alienation. That’s the ideal if you’re a Buddhist or an early Christian, for example; alienation is a sign that you understand something about the reality of the world.

So perhaps what’s new with modernity is that people feel they shouldn’t be alienated. Colin Campbell wrote a book called The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism, in which he argued that modernity has introduced a genuinely new form of hedonism. Hedonism is no longer just getting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll or whatever but it’s become a matter of selling new fantasies so that you’re always imagining the thing you want. The object of desire is just an excuse, a pretext, and that’s why you’re always disappointed when you get it.

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On Shopping And Warfare

Via the The New Inquiry, Christina Kral and Adriana Valdez Young on the connection between the two activities that may be opposite sides of the same coin:

What is the relationship between war and shopping? Both can be quite aggressive and at the same time appear to be innocent or absolutely necessary. As we shop or war, we serve a greater other. There are seasons for shopping and seasons for war. Both keep us busy and controlled. What would people do if going to war or to the mall wasn’t an option anymore?

But I think there is something much more primal about going shopping and going to war. As we saw from the post-9/11 patriotic calls to shop and support the economy, there was a fear that if Americans stopped consuming that the terrorists would win.

The US Army also had more direct mall-based, anti-terror strategies. As part of the ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign in 2003, the U.S.

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Supermarkets Begin Charging Different Prices To Different People

Standardized price tags may soon be supplanted by personalized ones. Wealthy, high-spending shoppers will likely be courted by receiving the best prices, while the poor will be charged more for the same goods. Dystopia reportage from the New York Times:

Going to the grocery store is becoming a lot less egalitarian. At a Safeway in Denver, a 24-pack of Refreshe bottled water costs $2.71 for Jennie Sanford, a project manager. For Emily Vanek, a blogger, the price is $3.69.

The difference? The vast shopping data Safeway maintains on both women through its loyalty card program. Ms. Sanford has a history of buying Refreshe brand products, but not its bottled water, while Ms. Vanek, a Smartwater partisan, said she was unlikely to try Refreshe.

So Ms. Sanford gets the nudge to put another Refreshe product into her grocery cart, with the hope that she will keep buying it, and increase the company’s sales of bottled water.

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Facebook App To Offer Discounts To People Who Agree To Be Constantly Tracked With Facial Recognition Technology

Would you agree to this in return for a half-price smoothie? Created by advertising agency Redpepper, a program called "Facedeals" is already being tested in Tennessee, with plans to expand nationally in the near future. The way it works is, internet-connected cameras mounted in front of businesses capture the faces of comers and goers. Individuals who have agreed to participate in Facedeals are identified and tracked using facial recognition software when a camera spots them, and as a reward periodically receive personalized deals and coupons via their smartphones:
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How Advertisers Manipulate Us Through Scent And Sound

If you’ve witnessed the fetishization of “new Apple smell”, this makes perfect sense. Via the BBC:

In public spaces all over the world, companies are gunning for consumers’ attention, intruding through their ears, nose and eyes, constantly assaulting them with sounds, smells and visual props.

All the senses can be manipulated to attempt to alter consumer mood and perception. Some 83% of marketing budgets are focused on the eyes, according to Martin Lindstrom’s book Brand Sense. Stimulate two senses and the brand impact increases by 30%, rising to 70% when a third is added.

The way companies use smell and sound in addition to visual tools such as advertising posters is not obvious. The sense of smell, “has a direct connection to the emotional brain, unlike the other senses”, according to Andreas Keller, research associate at The Rockefeller University. “Evolutionarily, the emotions elicited by smells are disgust and fear – and whatever the opposites of these emotions are – and social or sexual emotions.

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The Real Threat Posed By Counterfeit Goods

Sociological Images on an anti-knockoffs informational campaign from the U.S. government, to discourage plebeians from faking the fashions of elites:

This National Crime Prevention Council/Bureau of Justice Assistance ad, spotted in a mall in Portland, tells you that if you buy knock-offs, you are “a phony.” Yikes. I would have preferred “savvy” or “cost-conscious.” But, no… you are a fake person, a liar, a hypocrite. You are an impostor.

Counterfeits don’t really cut into Chanel’s profits directly. The people who buy bags that costs thousands of dollars are not going to try to save some pennies by buying a knock-off… [And] the people who are buying the counterfeits wouldn’t suddenly be buying the originals if their supply ran out.

Instead, policing the counterfeiters is a response to a much more intangible concern, something Pierre Bourdieu called “cultural capital.” You see, a main reason why people spend that kind of money on handbags is to be seen as the kind of person who does.

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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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