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The motto of our time is, “Live fast, buy faster.” Anywhere we go, anywhere we look, there are exciting offers: sales, discounts, new releases, limited editions. Brands are doing anything they can in order to sell more, and sell faster. And it’s surprising for them to see some kind of resistance. The society that is used to just consuming things has started to rebel against the idea of constant shopping. A total simplification is coming, in contrast to mass consumption: in things, food, clothes, and even life goals.
Bright Side has decided to figure out where this tendency for simplification came from and what it will lead to.
Buyers are tired of buying.
Fashion is everywhere, it’s in every area of economics and it is only getting stronger every year. Clothing brands release several new collections every season, smartphone manufacturers make new top models that are supposed to make you forget about the previous wonderful release. There are so many models in every price range that people can’t even distinguish them anymore. Before, we used to really look forward to new revolutionary models and we would stand in lines just to get one for ourselves, and today we don’t even know which iPhone to get in 2019. There are too many different options.
The consumer culture is based on getting short-term satisfaction from a purchase. Economics are stimulating us, “Don’t think, buy, throw it away, and buy a new one.” And we are tired. We are tired of new releases, new commercials, and new fashion changes. Society just can’t keep up with all of it. And the brands are basically making the same things, they aren’t really even inventing anything new.
2018 and the first half of 2019 have been very illustrative: mobile phone sales are not growing, they’re falling for the first time ever. The smartphone market still hasn’t found its way back after the drop in 2018, and now it’s falling even lower. The previously dynamic car market is also dropping, even Chinese manufacturers are experiencing big trouble for the first time in 20 years. Companies are being forced to look for new paths and mechanisms for how to sell their products and stay afloat. Many companies are offering products for rent, others are investing in the production of more expensive long-term things, and some are experimenting with subscription services. Everyone is trying new forms of advertising because the old ones are just not effective anymore.
Trust in advertising has reached rock bottom.
We are not only tired of buying, but we’re also tired of hearing that we have to buy something. Every day, the average person sees from 4 to 10 thousand commercials! So, it is not surprising that everyone is fed up with advertisements. And modern studies show that every year, the trust for ads and the work of marketers is dropping, and the generation of millennials is showing amazing resistance in huge numbers. Today, only honest commercials work. Brands are feeling this shift too: more and more companies have stopped editing their photos, they choose to work with people who shape a positive image of their company, they try to make their products and services more “human.” People need people: we trust real reviews more than marketing campaigns.
What’s going on in the fashion world?
Fashion more than just clothes, it’s also the mood of a society. The tendency toward simplification has resulted in something called normcore style (a mix of normal and hardcore). The point of this style is to dress just like everyone else, not really care about what you wear, and put on the simplest clothes you have. It should look as if you put on the first thing you saw when you were leaving the house. Normcore is built around comfort, it allows people to not spend a lot of time choosing clothes. It was originally an anti-trend, but it became mainstream. Even way before the actual trend, many famous people already dressed like this: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Nick Woodman, Keanu Reeves, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Many popular clothes designers realized that simple clothes are trendy now. Basic clothes are becoming more and more popular, more and more brands are including things that are outside of modern tendencies and can be worn at any time. If before, fashion required us to wear ultra-trendy clothes, today people wear timeless things. They try to choose the clothes that will allow them to make combinations with each other in a countless number of ways. “Less is more” is the principle that is dominant now. Yes, trendy things are still produced and released several times a year, but every manufacturer now has a line of classic clothing that can be worn for several years, rather than just in one season.
Different people come to the theory of conscious consuming in different ways: some just want to save money, some don’t want to clutter their homes, others are tired to picking out clothes in the morning, and someone else doesn’t like the idea that the simplest, everyday clothes actually require a lot of resources to produce. What harm does it do to buy an extra T-shirt? Well, it takes about 700 gallons of water to produce it (this is the amount the average person consumes in 900 days). A pair of jeans takes 1,800 gallons. And we are not even talking about the harmful chemicals used in production. And what if this T-shirt is not even worn more than once, like it so often happens. For example, 1,400 T-shirts are thrown away every minute in Hong Kong. Conscious consuming doesn’t mean you should stop buying things. It only requires that you ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
This movement has an extreme form called freeganism, which is an ideology defined by a very limited consumption of things. Freegans try to take as little part as possible in the economy and prefer using things twice: they find things, even food, in trash bins and dumps. Despite how radical this seems, freeganism has focused the attention of the public on the incredible number of things and fresh foods we throw away.
A different form of these movements includes giving up on owning property. The economics of shared consumption, is the economics of the future, and people are actively looking for ways of applying it. They are rethinking the importance of ownership: it is not cool to own a lot of things anymore. Renting and exchanging living quarters are no longer the part of the past, they are the future. Services like Airbnb allow us to rent apartments and houses for vacation without travel agents and hotels. Couchsurfing is a new way of traveling that makes it more affordable. Carsharing is becoming more and more popular every day. The website for Global Sharing Week has been visited by 100 million people already this year. Swap-parties (the events when people exchange clothes and other things) are becoming more trendy and many successful people don’t buy things, they rent them. Every year, the number of sharing services is increasing: you can rent storage, a parking place, and even a plane!
Redefining content — subscriptions
Content is also not a thing people own now. People have fewer books, films, music, and games in physical copies. Family accounts are very popular now. Every year, subscription services are getting more and more popular. Today, you can subscribe to pretty much anything: content, services, food delivery, and anything else. This saves our time, it allows us to make fewer decisions, and it often saves our money! The business of subscriptions is growing and spreading to new areas.
Buy less — live simpler
Sharing (when people use products and services together) and conscious consuming make us more free. If you don’t have a lot of stuff, you are not tied to one place with your property, you become more mobile, and it is possible to work from anywhere in the world. Do we really have to work a lot to buy something, if we can just rent it? What is the point of earning millions of dollars to buy a big house or a cool car if someone else can spend just thousands and rent the same things? Nobody even knows who bought something and who rented it. So, there is no need to own almost anything. Giving up on the ownership of things makes us more free in a different way too. When there is no need to spend your entire life working, you can concentrate on other things: family, rest, experiences. Instead of becoming more effective, we can live a slow life (this is another movement that is against a fast pace of life, stress, and so on).
What will all this lead to?
Simplification and consciousness are spreading to all the areas of our lives. It is not easy to convince us to make hasty decisions, we spend more time thinking about what we really want, and if we actually need another T-shirt or a pair of shoes. The tendency for simplification makes us think more about our actions. More and more people are investing in their own education and experiences rather than in material things. A unique experience is more valuable than the newest smartphone model.
The movements we are talking about are already changing the world. If we look at this situation more globally, these changes are coming: According to some predictions, by the year 2025, the shared economy will have grown 20 times and will be $335 billion. The model “business to consumer” will be redundant. In the new world, every customer will be able to be an entrepreneur. We will not only share material things, but also knowledge, professional help, and services. The tendency for simplification will erase the borders between social groups. It will be much harder to understand how much money a person has just by looking at them. Relationships in society will change. In order to be able to share things, we need to start trusting people more, find more safety guarantees, and learn to find compromises. The new approach will decrease the number of unsold products, which will make a positive influence on the environmental situation. For example, food sharing has already saved 490,903 kg of foods. No, all these things won’t happen tomorrow, but if we continue these movements, we will make our lives easier and the world will be a better place.
Are you also tired of marketing, fashion, and shopping?
Preview photo credit Victoria Grace / Pexels, Felipe Sagn / Unsplash