Monday, July 12, 2010

Consumed - A book review

Surprise - I have a book review today.

I read a thought provoking book - Consumed - Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending by Andrew Bennett and Ann O'Reilly.

The thesis put forward is people will slow consumption based partly on a tight economy and based partly on a backlash to overconsumption. People are getting sick of being marketed and sold.

I can certainly see why this should happen. Overconsumption certainly is a huge source of stress. I always suggest that one of the keys to lower stress is living within your means. Consumption is also a huge source of dissatisfaction.

So if the world becomes non-consumers (and I really do not think it will although a part of me hopes it pulls back a bit), how do companies thrive? This is what the book attempts to explain. The authors are not trying to pass judgement on if it should happen.

I tend to be more judgmental that we should moderate our consumerism. I wonder is consumerism is the opposite to humanism. And if w should not moderate for inner peace, we should moderate for world peace. And if not for ourselves, for the environment and the world.

So what do companies do as we become non-consumers? I would have to type the whole book but some things(these are in my words - not theirs so there is some interpretation):

1 - reconsider what value really is for the consumer. Then sell to that.
2 - recognize the non-consumer trend and develop products that cater to that (EG smaller, thriftier, less waste)
3 - Work at connecting with customers.
4 - be genuine and real. People see through gloss.

Great quotes from the book:

"It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - British Philosopher Bertrand Russell

"People will buy anything that is one to a customer" Sinclair Lewis

The book was thought provoking - therefore it was good.


At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Andy Strote said...

The production world, one that I work in, is going to have to come to grips with the fact that our production capabilities have far over-extended the world's needs or desires to consume. We have become hyper-efficient manufacturing way too much of many things. For example, we could easily lose a couple of car companies, electronics companies, clothing manufacturing and so on. What then? Who knows, but we'll adapt. We adapted to what we have now.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger GPS to GO said...

I find myself -having to catch myself from a constant want to buy buy buy -

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Harris Silverman said...

I think that part of the fallout from the financial crisis is that people are rethinking the whole ethic of living to work, always competing for bonuses, promotions, salary increases, etc. People are asking themselves if this is really a worthwhile way to spend their lives. So it's quite likely that, at least for a while, consumption in the wealthy countries will slow down, or even decline. Having said that, the developing world is continuing to grow richer, and given the low base from which they're starting, consumption will continue to grow there. So Western companies should be thinking about exports.

Harris Silverman


Post a Comment

<< Home