Weapons of Mass Consumption

By Rony Zibara, Partner, Innovation Director Idea Development

Our desire for new things and our obsession over new innovative products knows no bounds. Even as kids we have been enamored by all that was new, from the current GI Joe figure for the guys to the latest edition Barbie dream house for the Dolls.

Today we are bombarded by countless new products, pushed towards us from a plethora of new sites. Most of them being things we might want, but definitely do not need. But even then, no one can deny the appeal of retail sites like gilt.com, which played on our noontime Pavlovian impulses of getting a great deal before we stepped out for lunch, and then changing our ‘eating out’ plans and getting food ‘to go’ so that we can be back on our laptops by 1PM.

What started as a sample site has turned in to an industry phenomenon with the likes of Groupon, Social Living, Daily Deals, and now Facebook Deals. We sign up for these sites because they promise a certain exclusivity that used to be the privilege of a select few, the connected ones that knew where to find the best deals. But the number of offers today seem to fill up the endless space in our inboxes.

It’s this visual clutter that fuels our natural instincts to want more. Making our urges stronger than our will power. And transforming our desires into weapons of mass consumption. But even as we wonder about when we will reach the breaking point, when our senses will be fatigued by the daily invasion of deals, we can still take pleasure in the fact that we as consumers are playing a part in a retail revolution.

One of Karl Marx’s theories is that for change to happen, there have to be some internal contradictions. So as merchants compete for a small share of our disposable incomes, in an endeavor to gain a higher market share and increase overall profits, they use heavily discounted pricing as a bait to lure us in. However, even though online retailers offer lower prices, the absence of high fixed costs still enables them to have higher margins. But as more and more players enter the online retail sector, the margins are bound to shrink. And somehow it feels like eventually something’s gotta give.

It’s this kind of steam that builds up in the pressure cooker that spawns new innovative ideas. That disrupts the ecosystem and changes it forever. New ways to keep prices low and still increase margins. Simply to do more with less. So as this quiet revolution in commerce slowly brews and moves towards a regime change, we as consumers shall reap the rewards. Because just like our uncontrollable urge to splurge, the other thing that is constant, is change.

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