Readers: this post wraps up my monster series on consumerism and the retail industry. I hope you've enjoyed it, and as always I live for your thoughts, comments and feedback.
By now it should be painfully clear how our psychological biases can be exploited by the consumer products industry to get us to buy things we don't want or need. Look, if Budweiser can get us to associate bad beer with hot girls in bikinis, then--seriously--what can't they do? :)
And yes, plenty of companies make a living by taking advantage of our various cognitive foibles and blindspots. But let me make one point perfectly clear: I refuse to let my my readers wring their hands, whine, whimper, mewl, bitch, complain, shake their fists, or participate in any other acts of personal disempowerment because of the supposed power of the retail industry. I've made this statement many times here on this blog, but it bears repeating: Do not give your power away like that.
Instead, take action. Share this post series with others, start conversations about this subject, and educate the people around you about these concepts. Use your power.
Remember, no industry controls consumers. Instead, the exact opposite is true: We control all industries by deciding where and when we choose to spend our money. It is the height of disempowered hypocrisy for us to to complain about the consumer products industry when it merely sells us the products we consent to buy.
Again, don't give your power away. Instead, learn the game. Understand how things work--and that includes understanding how your own mind works. Be mindful of the mental foibles we have as consumers, and be even more mindful of how companies use those foibles to get us to buy more stuff.
For those readers perceptive enough to recognize their own psychological tendencies, what examples of psychological bias have affected your consumption and purchasing decisions in the past? Share in the comments so other readers can learn from your experiences!
I owe an enormous debt of thanks to Dan Gilbert's exceptional book Stumbling on Happiness, Nick Taleb's books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan and Tal Ben-Shahar's book Happier for prompting me to think about many of the issues described in this series of posts.
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