Do you remember a hard-hitting scene from Confessions of a Shopaholic, where Rebecca Bloomwood realise she just shopped too much and that the price she paid was not worth the quality? She thought she’s got great deals. She thought she needed all those things she’d purchased. But after the shopping spree excitement is gone and she’s home with mountainous clothes, she realised that she’s been fooled. Those clothes only gave her instant joy and they weren’t worth the price anyway.
Have you ever experienced a similar thing? Well, you are not necessarily a shopaholic if you have experienced that. In fact, many of us, no matter how much of a cheapskate we are, must have gone through that “regret after shopping” feeling. The experience may vary because the quality of the product isn’t worth the price or the following emptiness due to instant joy (which evaporates as quickly as it came).
It’s not completely our fault. The marketing industry has a very strong impact on consumers, especially as technology facilitates them to approach their consumers personally. Thus, it gets harder for us to differentiate between what we need and what we think we need. What we actually want versus what we think will bring us joy. The bombardier of promotions has shaped our consumer society to become mindless shoppers.
Basically, the effect of mindless shopping can come from two things: a realisation of a product’s worth and the lack of value or function the product brings. The first one can be illustrated as Rebecca Bloomwood’s scene in the movie, where she found out that the 50% off cashmere coat she bought was not really cashmere. She’s been duped. We all had those moments because the promotional strategy is to make us think that it’s a good deal when it’s actually not.
The second reason could be similar to the first one, but it deals more with the value of the product instead of the quality. For example, you bought a 70% off Christmas decoration. Decorations do not have any other function than for aesthetic reasons. Then you realise… the colour isn’t right for your preference, the shapes are too weird in your eyes. It’s generally good, but somehow it doesn’t give you the value you hoped for.
We can’t simply detach ourselves from the consumerist culture we’ve been brought into. But we can outwit it through mindful shopping and purchasing meaningful products. Don’t just think about the price, think about the quality and value as well. The story behind a product, even if the product is not functional in any practical way or seem overpriced, may give you value and joy, knowing that your purchase stands for the story of that product. Because at the end of the day, it’s the quality and value that will bring us joy.