The Decline of Consumerism and How Brands are Coping with It

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The new generation is the unofficial flag bearer of the ‘unconsumed’ lifestyle that is slowly but surely taking over the world at large. In particular, it is the millennials that are leading us towards the fall of consumerism.Sales, both online and in-store have seen a decline in the recent years. Consumer habits are shifting – there is a general ambivalence about consumption itself with people buying lesser than ever.

A part of this shift can be attributed to ideological reasons stemming from environment consciousness. A lot of it though has to do with economic drivers. As a result, a number of alternate consumer communities are emerging, facilitating more collaborate consumption and self-sufficiency. Swapping Events’ too are on an all time rise, especially for apparels and accessories.

The general observation is that buying more and more things seem to be interesting people lesser than ever before. Broadly, people are more interested in experiences – sharing and making memories, taking up unique activities, going on adventures and so on. It looks like we stand at the brink of the post-consumer era. In order to cater to this new ethos, retailers are trying their best to come up with novel, surprising experiences to woo consumers. Cosmetic retailer, Lush has emerged as a benchmark in offering its customers the ultimate in-store experience, be it through its interactive store layout or innovative payment system.

Having said that, experiential marketing might not be the best long-term solution to growing dissent towards consumption. The brands that are likely to survive in the long-run will be those that making genuine offerings enriching consumers’ lives, be it in the form of experiences, services or objects. The emphasis is on building long-term relationships with consumers, offering them a space to find some meaning, even at the cost of foregoing selling in the short run. French beauty brand, Sephora seems to have made a beginning here with its “try-before-you-buy” approach, steering free of hard-sell while offering customers complete autonomy to have “as little or as much personal contact” they want in stores. Other brands are following suit.

As far as economic growth is concerned and declining consumerism’s after-effect on it, that’s a different story altogether.


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