Consumer Culture Post * Due by 8am on October 23, 2014

I want to start this post by saying something I meant to say in class today: people should spend their money on whatever makes them happy.  I am 100% in favor of you all doing just that – spending your hard-earned money on the things you want.  There’s no judgement here on other peoples’ taste or preferences, and we should continue that in the comments, please.

What I’m interested in, is HOW the things we buy make us happy.  Why do we prefer certain products over others?  How do we determine what makes us happy?  And – do purchases make us happy over time?  Or does that happiness wear off?

Okay – the reading for this week suggested that “we are what we buy.”  In class on Tuesday, we talked a lot about what we WOULD buy, if we had unlimited money, and also the things we already own.

I have about 8 million questions for you guys – mostly because it’s been shown that your generation – Generation Y or “Millennials” – see shopping almost as a form of activism – that’s how important brands and consumerism are for Gen Y.  For example, in that article I linked to, one Millennial says that brands and corporations have more influence in our lives than elected politicians do – at one point she said that Pepsi (the company) is her “friend.” According to marketing research, your generation – more than any other – feels very strongly about brand loyalty.  When you brought up #TeamAndroid versus #TeamiPhone, that’s the research I thought of right away. When I just now searched the #TeamiPhone hashtag on Instagram and Twitter… I saw an awful lot of people posting pictures of their new iPhones. Again – that’s a ton of free advertising for Apple… but we’ll save that for next week when we talk about advertising.

Okay okay – I need to get to the questions, I know.

1. Do you find yourself feeling more loyal to certain brands than others?  Are there brands that you WANT to be associated with?

2. What causes you to prefer those brands?

3. Who does it benefit when you build brand loyalty?

4. HOW does that brand loyalty happen?

5. How do you feel when you buy something that is branded in a way that you like?

6. How do you feel when you’re not ABLE to get something that is branded the way you like?

7. Whatever product you’re talking about… how often do you feel compelled to “update” it?

I mentioned today that I have an Apple computer – a MacBook Pro, to be exact.  My past three computers have all been Apple.  I prefer Apple for a couple of reasons – first off, I do a lot of work with film and still images, and Apples tend to be better for those kinds of projects.  Secondly, my last PC died quickly and had very poor customer service when I needed help.  I’ve taken my MacBook to the Apple store in the Plaza a few times and they’ve always been able to fix whatever is wrong. The past two times, they haven’t even charged me for the repairs.

So, on the one hand, my brand loyalty has to do with quality.  That said, I do love the way Apple computers look. I think they’re sleek and beautiful in a way that many PC brands can’t touch. So, I’m absolutely willing to pay more for a really good quality computer that is reliable, and that has good support if I need it, and bonus – I like the way it looks.

I also have an iPad mini, but I didn’t pay for that (thank you, Donnelly College Soccer Team raffle!!!) and I tend to use it as a little laptop.  For example, if I’m working on writing about a film and need to watch the film on my computer for some reason (if it’s only available online, for example), I’ll type up my notes on the Mini.

I can’t afford an iPhone, and that makes me a little sad sometimes.  I tend to be pretty hard on phones, though, so I can’t even begin to justify the kind of expense an iPhone would involve (the phone itself, a good-quality case, Apple Care insurance, paying for the repairs when I inevitably drop it, and so on…)

Frankly, it makes me sadder that I want the phone that bad.  I try to think hard about why I want it so badly… so I’ll think about that now. Here are my reasons

1. Most of my friends have iPhones, so I see them all the time

2. They’re beautiful – the design is much nicer than my ancient Android

3. It’s a status symbol. Having a relatively recent iPhone looks good. So even though I hate to admit it, I’m definitely guilty of conspicuous consumption, too.  When I can afford it.

I should maybe pause here for a moment and say WHY I hate to admit that I’m guilty of conspicuous consumption.  I’ve spent the past 20 or so years of my life studying media very closely.  I am hyper-aware of how things like advertising and marketing work – so much so that I can’t ignore it.  I know when an ad is targeting my demographic (which Apple does, flawlessly) and I know when advertising is prompting me to be wasteful – to get rid of a perfectly good phone that does everything I need it to, and buy a new one so that… what? None of my reasons are very good, when I stop to think about it.  Additionally, I’m a person who cares a lot about the environment, and I know exactly how much damage we cause when we treat our cell phones as disposable. So it’s not so much that I judge others for their conspicuous consumption (like I said, everyone should do whatever makes them happy [within reason]).  It just happens to be a trait that I try to avoid, or at least be thoughtful about.

Anyway, even if I’m silly and wish I could have an iPhone, I NEVER update until I absolutely have to. I’m from a different generation than you all – most Baby Boomers and many older Generation Xers HATE to throw things away.  We tend to be  hyper-conscious of waste and when we buy something, we want it to last.  I’ll replace my MacBook when it stops working and not a moment sooner.  I still use my pink iPod mini to listen to music when I run. That’s ten years.  A ten year old iPod. Is that a record?

All right, folks – now you take it.  And I’d REALLY like to see some commenting on each others’ posts this time around.  Ask your classmates the hard questions, and we’ll have an awesome conversation on Thursday.

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23 Responses to “Consumer Culture Post * Due by 8am on October 23, 2014”

  1. mbugua2209 Says:

    For me i go by the brand and especially if its recognised globally then that creates a positive picture in my mind.In the world today matters concerning health have become a major issue of concern.Scientists and pharmaceutical companies have been working around the clock to come up with the best medications for the illnesses.Many of them with cheap drugs thus making it affordable to patients.However my best brand remains to be Glaxosmithkline(GSK).A british multinational pharmaceutical based in london.
    Though drugs from GSK are a little expensive especially thee antibiotics,its worth the price.Their drugs are always original and most patients respond very well even those that have been resistance to other kinds of generic treatments.
    Cheap is expensive.Most patients who may be in a compromising state on which drugs to buy end buying the generic medication.However after completion of the dose most will complain of having the same symptoms.Its best to buy the original medication GSK branded despite it being pricy
    Quite a number of patients today are enlightened and have a vast knowledge of their illness, treatment prescribed , the side effects and if the medication is original.
    I don,t know how many of us when buying treatment are keen to check from which pharmaceutical company the medication is from.
    Another factor to consider is whether the medication is original or generic?
    With treatment from GSK i am always confident even when the doctor pescribes
    With the current society where ill health has become common we should be careful to check the kind of treatment that we purchase and especially the over the counter medication.

  2. I’m associated with #TeamiPhone bandwagon. I remember back in 2011 when iPhones finally became available to Sprint, and other phone companies other than AT&T, everyone went crazy and switched out the phone that they had, including me. I’ve had an iPhone ever since, to be honest I’m not quite sure why I have an iPhone. My phone crashes all the time, its slow and Apple is constantly changing the phone models (but really they all look the same). Yet, this isn’t stopping me from getting the IPhone 6 next week, I guess this is because I don’t want to feel “outdated”. Everyone wants to have the latest model of any type of technology. iPhones is just the phone that everyone has to have, but no one wants to have an older version of the iPhone.

    Now a days you”re either #TeamiPhone or #TeamAndriod no in between, just depends on the persons preferences. The iPhone 6 just came out last month, and I admit I was kind of upset I didn’t get it right away because my upgrade wasn’t up, I guess having the latest version is “cool” many people can view you as being “rich” because you can afford it.

    • I’m team Android. But what is so great about an iPhone? It seems like everyone I know that has an iPhone loves them and tries to convert everybody over to that team. What made you want an iPhone ? what is it greatest features?

      • Victorino Says:

        I want to switch to team #iPhone. I don’t think is the right moment to do that but i will eventually.Tell me some of the pros and cons so that i can take notes.

    • “Team” still implies a choice, while there are people who take the phone they can get based on cost or need. A person might be trapped in a contract that limits their brand choices, or they simply might not be able to afford the new, beautiful phone.

      So there is in between – I’m the example that I gave above. I love iPhones, but I have an Android, and probably will still have one a year from now.

  3. Sometimes I go by brands and other times I go with what I can afford. When growing up my grandmother always taught me that the brand doesn’t matter if it has a good quality. The only times I think I pat attention to what brand it is, is when it comes to clothing. I really don’t think I really care about other brands that much. The reason why I say clothing brands is more important to me is because people recognize labels. If you have a pair of miss me jeans or rock revival jeans people associate you with having money the same way they do when you have a fancy car. You can say the same thing when you see a woman with a nice handbag or maybe nice engagement ring. The only time I can say when I really choose a brand was with my phone. I’m team ANDROID all the way. Ive been team Android about two years and you can say that I take it really serious. I love my phone. I love my phone to the point that I updated to it by putting 350 down when I first got it. I really feel like whenever a new galaxy comes out I need it. I know it sounds crazy but Im thinking about updating to the new Galaxy Note 4. I think the problem with my generation is we care too much what people think . I think that we have too many advertisements and reality shows making us think that we need the new things that we need to always have something new or we need to have more things than we actually do to prove something. I think what you are proving is that we can fit in that we are just as cool or just as cool as “rich” people or the people that has money. This also goes back to maybe status. You want your status to look more rich or look more like money

    • See – I definitely think that this must be generational. I can’t imagine recognizing what brand someone’s jeans are, and I tend to prefer clothes without visible logos or branding because (again – like many Old Generation Xers) I associate visible branding as a violation of my personal space – I won’t promote a company’s product for free. One of my friends refers to us as the “No Logo” generation because of the book written by one of our own:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Logo

      Aside from Donnelly t-shirts (which I happily wear, of course), the only clothing I have with any recognizable branding are t-shirts that have references to books on them. Oh, and a couple of old Steelers t-shirts that I no longer wear because of Ben Roethlisberger.

  4. Victorino Says:

    Directv vs Dish Network at home. I feel loyal to Directv because their customer service is very helpful. My parents always owned satellite TV cable when I was living with them. The problem with owning the wrong satellite TV provider is the high cost of the packages there is chose from and any other hidden charges they don’t tell you about. For example; there is an installation charge and sometimes it can be a fee for each room you want to install a TV. Another fee is the moving and satellite cancellation contract plan so they will charge up to $100-$500 to move your equipment or cancel your service with your provider.
    Most of the time I feel that Directv wants me to enjoy watching the programs i watch instead of digging out my pocket. I used to have Dish Network satellite TV but i was having too many issues. A main issue was a satellite error most of the time so i had to call them and to my surprise they had me on hold for about an hour. Something funny is that when you call customer service they don’t know who to transfer you to. I’m not saying Directv is better neither perfect but i haven’t had complicated issues with them.
    I did not think about who does the brand benefits every time people use them. I clicked the link Dr. Lenos mentions above and i read the article of Generation Y so now I will pay more attention to my brands. I looked up how Directv helps the community. I found out that they help in Disasters relief and children’s education. http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/content/corporate/citizenship
    I have to mention that when you see more people who uses the brand you are using you feel important and that you are making good decisions. Most of the time if i buy a brand others have and works fine I recommend it. When i can’t buy something the way I like then I let others know not to get it or explain the cons of the brand.
    I feel bad sometimes when i tell others not to buy something since it didn’t work for me. But then I feel like it is okay to help others not make the wrong choice. I don’t think I want to deal with satellite TV anymore so I will get Internet to watch Netflix. Netflix is a different story.

    • Team Dish Network! We have been with Dish for over ten years! I guess we were lucky enough because we didn’t have to pay new installation fees or anything like that. Also, we don’t have any issues with losing signal. The price has increased over the years, but I think it’s worth it because they keep adding more channels.

      • Victorino Says:

        You say you had them for 10 years! that is impressive. I heard good things about Dish Network so I guess i didn’t give them a chance. I don’t really watch all the channels so a small package plan works for me and Directv has it. I think Dish has better kid channels so i bet your kid is entertained

    • Oh – that’s a very good point. It is really nice to know whether the company you’re supporting does good for the community.

      Some organizations, like the Chronicle of Philanthropy, track how companies give:

      http://philanthropy.com/

      Cable and internet decisions are such a nightmare. I’m very lucky that our landlord installed Google Fiber in our building. We don’t have to pay for it, which is nice, but I was also a little bit relieved to have the decision taken out of my hands.

  5. I am rarely loyal to a brand. There are only two reasons I am ever loyal to a brand.
    1 – I have used a few of the brands items and all of them have been high quality and/or reliable.
    2 – Because of features the brand includes(or leaves out). This is kind of double sided. Features a company leaves out or puts in can drive me away from the brand.
    For example, I do not want to own an apple product. It’s not because they are bad products. They are just overpriced for the internal hardware they put into them. But the hardware they use is often of a good build quality and their design is subjectively nice.

    Also, being the power user that I am, I do not like how long it takes Apple to implement some of my favorite hardware/software into their devices. NFC (Near field communication), for example just came to Iphone in the most recent version. That has been something I have been using for over 3 years on my current phone, and a technology I use everyday. The other aspect of apple products I do not like is the lack of letting a “Power-User” easily change settings, customize, and letting the user do whatever they want with the phone.

    Similarly I do not like Samsung android phones because of the poor internal build quality and the loading of “bloatware” into the phone that a user can not remove unless they root the phone. Almost all of the smart phones I have owned I have rooted, or given myself administrator privileges on to change whatever I wanted in the phone. I did this with one of the earlier Iphones, and all the android devices I have owned since. The main reason I choose android over Iphone is the ease of being able to change core system settings without having to root or jailbrake. Also, in regards to the other comments I do not think it is just team iphone and team android. Each different manufacturer (samsung, HTC, LG, Sony) uses a different distribution of android(which in itself is a distribution of Linux(an open source operating system)) on their specific device. This means that the user interface from a Samsung phone to an HTC phone can(and often is) entirely different. So it is really team Iphone, Team HTC, Team Samsung, Team Sony, etc.

    Thinking about it I really do not hold any brand loyalties outside of the technology world. I do not care what brand of clothes I have, or brand of car, or brand of shoes. That stuff simply does not cross my mind, I just buy what I like, and can also afford. I don’t check to make sure it is a certain brand before I buy. Price to performance ratio is also a big factor in many of my purchases, even in the technology world.

    • Team LG it is then! Why LG? It was on sale! I don’t really understand all the components of a phone. If I can call, text and take nice pictures, that is all that matters to me.

    • If I had the time/energy to go into Power User mode, I would absolutely go Linux and Android by choice (versus Android by cost necessity, meaning free Samsung phone, meaning Epic Bloatware From Hell. That is the most frustrating aspect of knowing just enough about what a Power User is, and knowing I don’t have the time or energy to become one. Maybe over winter break!!!).

  6. Honestly when I’m out buying things for myself it’s most likely that I look at the cheaper prices before anything, of course I’m like everyone else who wants nice and expensive things but having the fancier things in life isn’t what makes me happy at all. Everything is always getting updated and always will, it’s always so hard to keep up with trends and the latest brands. It’s kind of like what Dr. Lewis said about buying tooth paste; in the untied states we have a whole aisle of different toothpaste while in other places they only have one brand of toothpaste. Why overwhelm yourself with all these brands? In that moment in time that I do buy a particular item I am happy for just getting something new but it fads over time because of all the nicer things that come out. Nothing last forever but with each second in time we make a decision about ourselves. In general I don’t have a particular brand of anything. In some way or another we will always have some sort of guilt for having  conspicuous consumption.

  7. I tend to gravitate to name brand things, I think because I am fooled into thinking that it will always be the best brand. (the most durable, best looking brand) It is thought to believe that when you have name brand items, you are automatically associated with money, but in my experience the people that I know with the most money, have the least name brand items. Like we stated in class a lot of those people are part of the “old money”.

    The branded objects that i feel more loyal to would be certain shoe brands, like Nike. In my opinion name brand items are more expensive but they are worth it because it is good quality. This type of loyalty definitely benefits whoever is taking my money. I know that many name brands are always being talked about when child labor and cheap labor are involved.

    When I am able to update my things, my name brand things, I feel like I am up to date with my generation which is always changing. It keeps me part of the in crowd per say.

    • victorino Says:

      About the “old money” do they stop and think about the overly expensive items? I have a funny way of thinking that now-a-day some people just want to live a fully life. With that in mind, society tend to spend as much for pleasure, desire and conspicuous consumption.

  8. I also look for brands. When it comes to clothing, if it looks nice I will buy it for myself. It doesn’t matter if it’s name brand or not. However, when it comes to my son, I look for name brands. I don’t want people to say, “Look at this kid, his cheap ass mom can’t buy him better clothes.” When you become a mom or dad, you will understand me! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend $50-60 for an outfit, I go straight to the clearance racks at Dillards or Abercrombie! If I don’t have money I just go to Target. You are probably thinking it’s just the brand plastered on the front. Yes, but buying name brand clothing is associated with better quality. I think it is true. All of Dominic’s name brand clothes have lasted for years. When I buy him something at Wal-Mart, it either shrinks or has little fuzz balls on his shirts, which makes it look old. Is it wrong that I’m buying name brand clothing for him at a young age? Maybe. I don’t know. But then again, he doesn’t even know what the words on his shirts mean. For him, its just clothes.

    • Liz – I’m with you. I go for quality and products that will last over any other factor particularly for things like dressy dresses (like for weddings) and shoes and bags. I’ll happily wait as long as possible (to save up, and to wait for sales) and spend a little more for something really nice from J Crew, for example.

      I have a friend who is a professional stylist and she helps me pick out things like that. Her mantra is, “really good fashion never goes out of style” and I agree with her 100%.

  9. I do find myself feeling more loyal to certain brands than others.There are certain products I do buy and careless about the brands they bare but there are specific brands that I would love to be associated with like:-
    Gucci(bags,purses,clothes),Sony(electronics),Bradington(leather furniture),Toyota(cars) and L’Oreal(cosmetics).I prefer these brands most of all because of the high quality they possess,secondly because of the classy image association they portray plus they have my taste, thirdly because of durability and lastly because it is very rare to find any counterfeits of these brands and if any,one can recognize it/them from just a glimpse of the product(s).

    By building brand loyalty through the extensive buying of products, the companies in question get to benefit from me as a consumer and also as a bait of advertising their products, the government also gets to benefit from the incurred taxes and above all I also benefit by feeling contented and happy. Nonetheless, I sometimes get very frustrated when prices sky rocket and I cannot afford something at that given time and it is something I really want so badly,am forced to wait for seasonal change when prices tend to lower or when there are offers on certain occasions like Black Friday.

    Who would want to be left out on the new trends of any product (s) they like?certainly not me.I would be compelled to keep myself updated with the things I like as often as possible because I do believe they do come with a greater improvement than the previous ones.A good example is iPhone 6 which has come with awesome remarkable features and the media does play a huge role in this through such forums as advertisements which are everywhere.

    • Oh my gosh, Sophie, I didn’t even think of makeup, which is a wonderful example. Most women, when they find a brand they love (and that doesn’t irritate their skin!) will stay with that brand for life.

  10. Like Mariana said, the first thing that comes to my mind is the IPhones. I have also own an iPhone since the 3rd generation. I don’t find the iPhone as great of a phone but I owe one because it’s “the cool” phone. Also people with iPhones are thought of as people with money, or so I’ve heard. Even though I don’t care much about what type of phone I have I know at the end I would end up picking an iPhone since I’m familiar to it and it’s easy to navigate. Also another brand that I prefer is Nike. I love the quality of the shoe to be honest. I still have a pair of shoes from my freshman year in high school that if I washed they would not look that old, and I wore them a lot not just a couple of times. And another thing I love about Nikes is that they are not that expensive! Unlike my brother who has like 20 pairs of Jordan’s which I’m sure is not because he “loves” the brand. I’m sure it’s just to impress girls since each pair is over $100. The reason I’m loyal to Nike is because I have never bought any shoes that I have regreted in the long run. I find them so comfortable and they are a well recognized brand. I am loyal to them because of it. Loyalty to a brand happens when one is satisfy with the product in my opinion.

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