Edited By: Lavanya Goswami
Consumerism is the propensity to consume and keep consuming, encouraging acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. Boosted by various socio-economic forces, consumerism has increased manifolds in the past decade. In the short run, higher rates of consumption can be correlated with an increase in the total output of an economy and spending and, presumably, a country's GDP. But in the long run, consumerism can be unstable, unsustainable and harmful. Amongst the various other factors, the entertainment industry plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer behaviors and preferences and strongly influences consumerism. The effects of the entertainment industry on consumerism not just include increased merchandise ranging from Marvel to Chhota Bheem, but also encompass the rise of product demand due to niche trends, lifestyles and subtle product promotions by the entertainment sector.
A BURGEONING MIDDLE CLASS
For the entertainment industry, the burgeoning middle class acts as the perfect consumer market and target audience. They seek to align with modern lifestyles depicted in entertainment media, driving demand for products and experiences portrayed on-screen. The privileged but pressured youth finds itself helplessly driven towards buying the latest trending items. According to Keynesian economics, one dollar spent in fiscal stimulus eventually creates more than one dollar in growth. Thus their increased spending, influenced by the entertainment industry, contributes to economic growth. On the other hand, due this to economic growth and bigger pockets, the consumers spend more, creating a virtuous cycle.
The virtuous cycle is further fueled by marketing factors and cross-media synergy, thereby increasing the impact of consumerism. Greta Grewig’s Barbie, released in July 2023, sent a ripple in the global markets and even claims to have caused a shortage of the color pink. The middle and upper middle class form the biggest share of these consumers. Mattel signed licensing deals with more than 100 brands, collaborating and creating a pink shopping bubble ranging from dresses to glassware, airbnb to xbox. The $150 million marketing budget was not just a promotion for the film. It was for the Barbie brand and for everything pink. Even those who couldn't afford the official brand collaboration products, simply dressed in pink to watch the film. This shows how one instance can create cross-media synergy to foster a multi-faceted engagement experience and intensify the impact of consumerism.
MARKETING AND MEDIA PROLIFERATION
Media proliferation and accessibility, owing to technological advancements and digital platforms, grants people access to a wide array of entertainment and consumption options, thereby influencing choices. It acts as a catalyst by shaping desires, normalizing certain lifestyles, and generating aspirations that prompt individuals to engage in buying behavior. The constant bombardment of media messages, combined with emotional connections and social influences, contributes to the phenomenon of modern consumerism. Further, global media exposure blurs cultural boundaries, promoting similar consumption patterns worldwide. This encourages individuals to adopt international trends and products, leading to increased demand for these items. Multinational corporations and collaborations facilitate the exchange of cultural products by making international trends and brands accessible to all consumers.
THE EMOTIONAL CONNECT
Entertainment content provides a form of escapism and emotional connection for consumers. This emotional bond fosters brand loyalty, as consumers associate positive feelings and experiences with the entertainment content they love. Product placement is effective because it enables the audience to develop a stronger connection with the brand in a more natural way, rather than being directly marketed to. Product placement is a form of advertising in which branded goods and services are showcased in some form of media, like television shows and movies, that targets a large audience.Advertisers capitalize on this emotional bond by associating their products with the lifestyle and preferences of the characters as the consumers are more likely to support brands associated with their favorite entertainment, leading to increased sales and revenue.
CONSUMERISM AND THE ECONOMY
It is widely accepted that the surge in consumerism positively impacts the economy. It boosts manufacturing and increases revenue, which in turn leads to more prosperous workers and thus more thriving and wealthy consumers. Consumer spending makes up the lion's share of aggregate demand and gross domestic product (GDP), so boosting consumer spending is seen as the most effective way to steer the economy toward growth. New needs have been created and further augmented by advertising. But at the same time, consumerism, especially driven by the entertainment industry, pressurizes people to keep up with ever-changing trends, leading to financial strain and unsustainable consumption patterns. Although producing luxury items domestically increases economic growth, importing them creates a strain on the foreign exchange. Furthermore, it also results in a culture of overconsumption and waste, contributing to environmental degradation. It is evident that consumption simultaneously and problematically drives economic growth and carbon emissions. While it is challenging to mitigate the direct and indirect
impacts of environmental harm, it is crucial we do so.
Striking a balance between embracing trends and embracing sustainability remains the challenge, as we navigate through the intriguing tapestry of consumerism woven by the dynamics of the entertainment industry. In a world of ever-growing consumerism, the entertainment industry emerges as a powerful catalyst, shaping desires and driving purchasing behavior. The allure of constantly evolving trends and lifestyles is captivating, propelling us to seek alignment with the on-screen narratives.