Monday, October 18, 2010


The following comment was written on "Social Commerce Today" blog. The article was entitled: How Social Commerce Works: The Social Psychology of Social Shopping.

 I thought this was a great article and it brought to light several issues that consumers deal with. Your article did a great job on applying theories to actual phenomenon occurring today. For example your “follow the crowd theorem,” made me analyze several factors that influence our buying action. I believe the iPhone is one item that many people purchased just because the “crowd” was doing the same. I tend to be annoyed by those who do things just because everyone else is doing them. But your article is helping me be a bit more understanding. The social media aspect of marketing has become so crucial because when items are “recommended” by others or we see things as top-rated, the consumer is more inclined to buy those items.

The power of social media and the media in general is playing such a prominent role and your article helps address this. You’ve provided many classic experiments that made me realize the extent to which an individual can be psychologically manipulated. Your article made me recall an episode of the Tonight Show with Conan o Brien where he told his viewers to purchase frivolous, random items (Steven Segal CD, chicken calendar). To his surprise, he attained a huge following and people actually bought what he told them to buy. He then began to recommend items every week. The success of his campaign was apparent when you looked at the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”section; all of them were listed. This just goes to show the power of influence.
Here is the second comment in response to Scientists Find that Low Self-Esteem & Materialism Goes Hand in Hand.  

I think it is extremely unfortunate that materialism affects young children the way it does. Kids are peer pressured into giving into the latest crazes, simply because their friends deem it to be cool.   Unfortunately, if self-esteem is never learned then these habits carry on to adulthood.  I am currently doing research on materialism and its relation to self-esteem.  Your article brought to light that the cost of materialism far extends the cost of the material item itself.  Self-esteem and feelings of self-worth may be far more damaging.  The cost to the environment is another giant to tackle.

The issue of consumerism is really a double-edge sword.  As you mentioned above, purchasing is beneficial and healthy for the economy as a whole, but detrimental to the individual.  The hard part is finding a balance and means of self-control when faced with a purchasing dilemma.  There is definitely a link between esteem and impulse buying.  People compensate for their lack of self-worth through showing off their material goods.  But the momentary gratification soon fades and then they are left with little else.  We just need to remember that our personal value is intrinsic rather than extrinsic.

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