Have I mentioned lately how much I hate "manufactured demand?"

Manufactured demand -

(From this site.) Whenever it comes across my consciousness again, I’m reminded just how much I hate this practice. It ties into the idea that there are never enough profits for a business (controlled, reasonable growth isn’t enough - you must do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make more money), and the idea that I (the consumer) must be bombarded and bothered everywhere I go and in everything I do by advertising. It also ties into the idea of stuff. Everyone needs stuff; the problem comes in with how much stuff you actually need (as compared to what you want). I don’t think people should just blindly acquire stuff - I’d much prefer people think about stuff before they bring it into their lives (“Do I need it? Will I get a good use out of it? Can I get it a better way, like renting it for the odd use?” etc.).

This rant was prompted by watching The Story of Bottled Water, in case you’re interested. I don’t support bottled water, either.

If the rant is that consumerism is bad for the environment, I’m with you. It is problematic that environmental consequences are largely externalities of our economic decisions.

If the rant is that there is an objective difference between real demand and manufactured demand, I’m not so sure.

Suppose I pick up a rock off the street and approach you with it. I tell you stories about the rock, associate the rock with other things you like, and convince you that this rock is of great value. Indeed, you find yourself desiring the rock enough to offer to purchase it from me. You buy it, and because of how I’ve made you feel about the rock, it gives you pleasure to own it more or less in proportion to the amount of money you gave me.

Have I harmed you? Why? Should happiness not be manufactured?

A fried of mone told me he read an article about the explosion in self-storage (pods, garages, etc.) over the past 10-20 years, and it’s all about our obsession with stuff. We buy so much stuff that we can’t even fit it into our homes, and we also can’t bear to throw the old stuff out. So we rent extra storage space for it.

Most of it may as well be in a landfill for all the use it will ever get. So in essence, individual Americans are renting small, very pricey landfills, but not actually burying anything. :stuck_out_tongue:

The problem is that it creates dissatisfaction. We get the sense that our life isn’t complete without this rock. From this position of dissatisfaction, we buy this rock. I don’t think that on balance it makes our life happier than it would have been if we had never heard of it.

it’s about both; consumerism is bad for us, period, in my opinion. As Blalron says, your talking about the rock created an artificial desire based on dissatisfaction; there was no need in my life for that rock. My life wasn’t suffering from a lack of that rock until (hypothetical) you (the marketing/advertising world) interfered.

Nonsense. There is no such thing as artificial desire or artificial demand. If you misjudge how much use you’re going to get out of a product, it’s your own fault.

Next you’re going to tell us that there’s no such thing as enough profits for a business.

The market is perfect; all must kiss the golden ass.

Consider something like a cell phone. Suppose you used regular phones all the time, but had never heard of a cell phone. You didn’t feel its absence, because you didn’t know it existed. Then someone explains to you what a cell phone is, and how for a hundred-odd dollars a month you can have one. Now you know you can have one, for a price, and you know it would be a help to you, even though before you heard about it, you didn’t feel a need for one.

Did the guy who told you about the cell phone do you a favor? It’s not clear to me either way, but hearing about “cell phones” is unavoidable. I try to cultivate a state of mind that lets me hear about “cell phones” and remain neutral - not resent the fact that someone told me, but also not just mindlessly go out and buy one.

I have no idea what you’re talking about. Try making some sense.

Why are you under the impression that the rest of the world puts less thought into their purchases than do you?

What bugs me is the people who believe and buy. Something like 9 billion empty water bottles in U.S. landfills annually because people are sheep. It’s crazy the crap people believe they must have.

Basically, you absolved advertising of the responsibility not to mislead people. That traditionally goes very well with the idea that business may, if not must, maximize profit in all ways at all times.

I did no such thing. It is against the law for companies to lie about their products. There are entire organizations dedicated to punishing those that do.

I’m not talking about artificial desire or demand; I’m talking about manufactured demand. Sure, once people have the desire created in them, it may be perfectly legitimate (but chances are it isn’t), but they were fine before they were messed with. A perfect example of this is glittery underarm antiperspirant. I would suggest to you that there is no one on the planet who needs their underarms to glitter, yet there are antiperspirants who offer it as an option, to help you choose it over other antiperspirants.

It does get tricky because once you discover (for example) the cell phone, you realize it is kind of convenient to have a cell phone. You don’t need one, and you were functioning just fine without one, but now that you have one, it’s kind of nice (and now you can pay for it every month like a good little consumer). But you didn’t have a need for it; I guess this would qualify as an artificial need; you like it now that you’ve experienced it, but you didn’t need it.

Because they do (don’t?). The Great Masses don’t put as much thought into their purchases, is what I’m trying to say. Not that I’m a paragon of virtue in this area, but I do try to shop consciously, and I do resent the intrusion of focused, targeted advertising in my life.

I read an interesting idea; that advertising way back when used to be to let people know what was available and from whom. Modern advertising/marketing doesn’t take such a passive approach; they will create the need in you, then fill it for you (for a price).

Desire is the dissatisfaction that comes with not having something. The consequence of manufacturing happiness is the creation of dissatisfaction for those who cannot attain it.

Are there reasons why we should not be creating happiness in the form of objects? Sure, I can think of a few, including the aforementioned environmental consequences. But the line of argument against finding happiness in consumer objects does not make the specious (IMHO) distinction between real and false desires.

Oh, they don’t do anything so gauche as lie; that would be actionable. All they do, with banks of massive focus group and psychological research departments behind them, is spin, suggest, imply, and outright state that your life would be better if you gave us money in exchange for this product.

I don’t think the distinction is specious. I think it would take very little research to find out that the “fulfillment” produced by buying the product for which you had a demand manufactured in you is hollow.

What CW said. Lab, I said “mislead.” You said “lie.” That’s weaseling.

I’m not trying to be a jerk, but that isn’t an answer to my question.

Honestly, I totally disagree. I think moat people put a great deal of thought behind their purchases. Their decision-making criteria may differ greatly from yours, though.

I truly cannot think of a time when this would have been true. People have been creatively marketing their products for thousands of years.

I don’t care. Your leap in logic was so absurd that it didn’t even warrant the time it to for me to reply. I didn’t absolve companies of anything.