The original consumer culture suffered a tremendous change in the 20th century as a result of consumers becoming fascinated by the idea that life is based on status and not reality. The original consumer was created as a result of the need for people to express themselves through the purchase of retail private items which accetuated their individualism. This culture evolved to meet the needs of society during a period of time when ideas of individualism and private life were becoming commonplace.
During the initial rise in consumer buying, manufacturers were faced with a situation of unbalanced demand versus supply. There were so many avenues to provide products that the consumer could not keep up with the fast paced manufacturing process. Over time, the consumer did catch up and in fact surpassed the supply versus demand barrier. Due to the overwhelming supply, however, the retail market was unable to deal with the changing needs of the consumer and found themselves i! situation where marketing would become a key factor in maintaining their business.
In the 20th century, manufacturers turned to their salespeople and begged for advertisment to compete with the competition. This philosophical change in attitude resulted in the ruthless disregard for consumer needs and the focus economic advantage to the manufacturer. Products were no longer of the same quality as in the past. The only factor was marketability. The idea of planned obsolescence became popular to future manufacturing goals.
It was no longer about providing a needed service or product to the consumer, but instead was driven by deception and falsehood to sell products. As manufacturers realized the ability they had to control the consumers buying habits, they began to shift their marketing strategies and attacked the basic social rules governing status, glamour, and prestige to sell products. It soon followed with a change in consumer opinion.
The consumer of the 20th century began to believe the ads and bought products which they believed would increas! heir social position. It was no longer about meeting fundamental needs, but more about the evolution of self. People were becoming social animals who hunted for the fame and glamour associated with buying certain products. Consumers today have taken this idea of self to the utmost extent and it can be seen in everything from clothes to food to transportation. It is not likely to stop until the social attitudes once again change to curb the manufacturers ability to influence the social arena.