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Americans Are Lazy Consumers


Author:  Jason Jacobs
Date:  2008.09.15
Topic:  Editorials
Provider:  Techwarelabs
Manufacturer:  TechwareLabs






Americans Are Lazy Consumers

The Technology Cloud:

If the old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted then Americans are the fools of the world and here's why.

Seems anytime someone introduces a new gadget, technology, or tech product a cloud of confusion, hype, and marketing settles in place. People suddenly lose their minds and buy whatever the TV shows them. If a celebrity says its good then they buy even more. Since all technology and gadgets are eventually sold or used in a consumer product I will refer to them as products for the remainder of the article. A great example of this is the research and development of the pens used by NASA that can write upside down and in zero G. The technology behind this eventually made it into consumer pens and other products you can buy on store shelves today. Oh by the way do you know what the Russian answer to this technology was? The Pencil! Ok following me so far? Lets get back to the Cloud.

This "cloud" has a two fold effect, first it serves to distract attention away from what the product actually accomplishes (or doesn't accomplish) and second it serves to hype the product. Marketing and hype thats what sells nearly all products on the market today with the exception of Gasoline and iPods which are basic life necessities. What happened to products selling on the basis of need? And just to clarify there is a difference between my want for a Ferrari and my need for water. Though im open to any compelling arguments for the Farrari being a need that I can later use to convince the wife. If you have one BTW make sure to send me a tweet to TWLDotCom.

Ok so we can all agree that either mass hysteria has taken effect or that the American public buys whatever is hyped the most that they happen to have a want for right? Americans don't like to do product research, as a country we by in large want to have our decisions made for us. We want to believe the hype and marketing and let others tell us what we need and whats good for us. Don't you think its time to take back some personal control over your wallet? Stop handing out cash to companies because they tell you to, or because their pawns tell you to.

A Perspective on Purchasing

Lets put this in a tech perspective for lets say, a cell phone. Personally I use a Motorolla Razr which has its pro's and con's. What is the Razr at the end of the day though. . . still a phone that you make calls with. Sure you can text, sure you can browse the internet, choose the color of the phone, take pictures, select from the growing millions of ring tones, and much much much more but its still a phone. My personal opinion is that I would be happy if it made calls reliably and didn't sound like I was making a string can to can call to Nigeria. The largest complaint any cell phone company deals with are technical issues surrounding making calls and the quality of the calls and yet cell phone companies continue to cram more and more exotic features into these devices. Who asked for this stuff anyway? I don't remeber the American masses screaming for phones that they could watch the NFL playoffs on in 1080p. I do remeber them asking for a reliable phone. Americans buy these phones at an alarming rate and still ask for qualities we don't and won't get. Look at the iPhone for example. The marketing engine and hype for this product was so good that people formed lines, accepted wild AT&T contracts and paid exorbitant prices. As a matter of a fact the marketing was so good that Apple did it twice and people didn't blink, the only difference the second time is that they charged more. That's the true American theme there, if you sold too many it means you didn't charge enough the first time around.

Ok wave your hand in front of your face if you have an iPhone on your hip right now. Go look in a mirror and ask "Was it worth it?" Be Honest. Now tell me about the blazing speeds of 3G.

Need another example? Sure thing. . . lets talk about computers. I can see you raising your shields now. Don't attack my top of the line FILL IN THE BLANK HERE. Well thats exactly what Im going to do. First off a few questions:

  1. Why did you buy the computer in the first place?
  2. How did you select the computer to buy?
  3. Who did you ask about the brand/model and why did you trust them?

First off chances are you upgraded because your previous computer was older than dirt. Secondly chances are also that you selected the computer to buy based on price. Lastly you more than likely asked for someone's advice that you trust. Now the first and second parts of the questions I will come around back to but first I want to talk about the last question; Who you asked and why you trusted them.

More than likley you trusted them because of their perceived knowledge about computers. Shouldn't you trust them more if they had a greater knowledge about how to purchase or why to purchase products? Never mind the how to save money, or why should you spend money at all. If the trusted guru of tech was indeed a guru of tech then something similar proceeded:

You: Your mom and need a new computer the old one is slow.
Guru: Well how much do you want to spend.
You: Less than a thousand.
Guru: Ok you can do that, do you want a laptop or a desktop?
You: I dunno what do we need?
Guru: Get a laptop that way you can go anywhere and still get online.
You: Ok sounds good. Which one should we get?
Guru: Well I like HP but Dells are cheaper in some cases.
You: So then lets get a Dell.
Guru: Ok I will take a look at the latest deals and get you a decent laptop.

Sound close right? There may or may not be some discussion in there about what mom and dad needs or wants in the new laptop, but the important part is missing entirely. Where is the question that addresses the need for a laptop, desktop, or new gadget at all? Do I/you need a FILL IN THE BLANK? Impulse buying is responsible for more purchasing and subsequent debt in the USA than most people realize. The plain fact of the matter is that the latest and greatest is usually not the latest and greatest for long and usually not needed by most.

What makes the latest AMD or Intel processor the must have processor? Because we at TechwareLabs said so, is that a good reason to go out and buy it? Worse still is taking the manufacturers statements at face value. AMD and Intel claim almost weekly that their processor is a must buy, and lets not forget the processor wars of only few years ago when who held the performance crown depended on which week the question was asked. What product was right to buy then? Or should you have stepped back and asked yourself if there was a right product to buy at all.

Do I need to Buy?

Do I need an upgrade? Do I need the iPhone 3G when I have an iPhone? Until these questions are asked on a regular basis the country will remain in debt on a national and individual level. Its an attitude shift that is not likely to take place. Why?

Because Americans are lazy consumers. Tell us what to buy and when and we part with our money very easily. And don't worry the marketing geniuses of the world have made even buying easy on you. You can get a credit card more easily than you can mail a letter these days. With shockingly little data you too can have a $5000 credit limit even if you work at Burger King part time for minimum wage. Its like someone hijacked the reasoning centers of the brains of nearly every person in the country. What's worse is we all seem to accept this fact, in the face of a growing recession, high gas and fuel prices, inflation, and the impending crash of the banking system in the US people still want to purchase stuff they don't need and lots of it. By the way kiss what few assets in the bank you have goodbye as the FDIC won't be able to print its own out of business signs when it all goes down.

Why is it we can no longer think for ourselves? Have we have handed the keys to our brains over to the marketing companies who are fighting for who gets control and your cash? What is it that you can do?

I suggest you start by not buying into the hype. Ask yourself if any particular product you see is worth buying, especially technology gadgets which are often overrated and under performing. Whats the point of upgrading your processor from a dual core to a quad core if all you do with the computer is surf the internet and type office documents. Do you need a Geforce 280 at $500 if you are playing solitare? How about the purchase of that new laptop for $2000? Is it really necessary? It might surprise you but this entire article was created on a netbook that costs just under $500, the MSI Wind.

If all everyone did was think twice before their next purchase how much cash would the entire country save in . . .one. . .single . . .day.

Are you a lazy American consumer?

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