I recently wrote an essay about commodity fetishism and false needs. A point that stood out was "people in all societies produce useful goods—but not all these goods are commodities." This statement raised a few questions in my mind. If there are all these useful goods being produced, why aren't they all becoming commodities? Which ones become more in-demand, and why? Why does one product, which may be virtually the same thing as another product, sell for a higher price? These questions can be answered from many different point of views, depending if you are an economist, a businessman, a sociologist, a psychologist, and the list goes on. During my research, I began a self-reflection. Which three factors made me decide to purchase the pair of jeans that I am wearing today? What differentiates my Uniqlo jeggings from all other pairs?
- "This is the only Uniqlo store location in North America. I must buy something from here, or else I will miss the opportunity!": Ironically, I had never heard of this store before arriving in New York City. My cousin had been telling us about his favourite store and brought us to Uniqlo. What had convinced me to spend my money in a store I had never heard of? Did Uniqlo purposely establish only one location in North America to create a demand for their products? Looks like it was the exclusivity that attracted me to those jeggings.
- "These jeans are less than $50. What a steal!": The inner cheapskate in me does not make very frequent appearances, but I squealed upon seeing the price tag. Nothing can compare to discovering cheap finds.
- "The chick over there looks amazing in her jeggings...": You simply cannot argue with looking good... or can you? Who do I plan to impress when I get dressed? Leaning more towards those Sociologists, how are the social norms in terms of style created?
My self-reflection is far from over, and hardly answers any of the questions I raised in the first paragraph. Will I be spending less money on branded goods and services? Probably not, but I am slightly more aware of my false needs. I would like to encourage you to spend a little bit of time reflecting on your own habits as well. What factors influence your choices? Is it status? Do you relate to a brand's identity more? Does it affect your lifestyle?
For further reading on false needs in our lives, take a look at this article by Leo Babauta, "Letting go of fake needs"
This ends my quick little blurb. Hope to return to this topic at a later time, but for now, I am off to write another paper. Good night.