On Campus

What are you really buying?

Sagar K. | Updated on October 20, 2013 Published on October 20, 2013


A little different from a wake up call, here is a kindly-go-back-to-sleep call that needs to be sent out to the people. And by people, here I mean consumers. The reason behind this call is that, for quite some time now, we have been waking up to a flood of new products, from gadgets to apparel, from pathbreaking technological products to “out-of-the-box” innovations.

The things we wake up to today may have vanished from supermarket shelves six months from now! That is the speed with which we are being bombarded by new products every day. After all, every company is trying to get a foothold in a difficult, increasingly competitive market and people have to make a living from their business.

So they work round the clock, leaving no stone unturned to capture that ever elusive market share by bringing out newer products. Nothing worrisome there. What is appalling is when the coin is flipped, and we are confronted by the reaction of the consumers to this mad rush. It is shocking how impressionable and susceptible to manipulation we are.

There seems to be a whole generation that has been hypnotised and a whole other one getting ready to be hypnotised in the name of adapting to a faster and easier way of life, technologically empowered to change the way we work and live.

(In case the reader concludes that this writer is one of those anti-technology, anti-development, medieval-philosophical types, let me clarify that I am not against technological developments.) But I am taken aback by the headlong rush into consumerism, with people grabbing just anything and everything being audaciously thrown at us, sugar-coated with endless layers of customer satisfaction, guarantees, warranties, post sales services, deceptive discounts and customer relationship management techniques that are more alluring than the products themselves.

This behaviour is rarely, however, backed by strong and genuine reasons of necessity and affordability.

Some simple questions most of us fail to ask ourselves while shopping are: Do I really need it? How much should I spend on it? Thanks to marketing gurus, the brilliant ad-campaigns and marketing techniques stop us from asking there questions. And this is most common in the case of gadgets.

blissfully ignorant

Often, one meets people flaunting smartphones, on which they would have spent almost, or more than, a month’s salary but they are oblivious of basic information, such as which operating system the phone works on. It is more of a camera, a music player and a hand-held video game centre to play a few games on the go. I am reminded of an advertisement here, which I saw recently. It was for a smart-camera. It was the first product of its kind. The ad showed several new features the camera had.

One of the features highlighted was that it could take pictures and at the same time capture the sound as well. Now, when we saw the ad, we were so interested in the new features that we almost forgot to spare a thought about the utility of those features. It again comes down to those question we don’t ask ourselves.

As cool as it does sound that a sound clip can be attached to a photograph, doesn’t just shooting a videoclip serve the purpose better? Unless we ask those questions, we will keep succumbing to the delusional satisfaction derived from things we mostly never wanted.

(The author is a student of Christ University of Management, Bangalore.)

Published on October 20, 2013
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