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The Age of Marketing: Turning Luxuries into Necessities

  • A lot of the frantic change of the 21st century is due not to real technological progress, but simply to more effective marketing techniques. Marketing could be the single technology that has staged the biggest progress over the last 50 years, therefore fooling people into thinking that they live in an age of rapid progress when in fact they more prosaically live in an age of rapid change.
  • One of the great discoveries of 20th century capitalism is that economic development depends on the production and consumption of unnecessary goods.
  • Luckily the luxuries of one generation tend to become the necessities of the next generation, and this has always been true even before the invention of marketing.
  • There will never be an end to economic development. There might be temporary setbacks due to wars and diseases, but ultimately each generation takes for granted what its parents had an expects more, which guarantees endless economic development.
  • The need for unnecessary goods appears to be biological. The fascination with jewels is pervasive even among the poorest people.
  • That innate biological impulse becomes more than just consumerism, more than a bad habit: it becomes a more duty (to turn luxuries into necessities).
  • People identify with luxuries, not with necessities.
  • Human society is all about fulfilling the necessities that itself creates.
  • Marketing is a sophisticated instrument to churn out more necessities.
  • Marketing turns luxuries into necessities, public space into private space.
  • Marketing achieves this by employing industrial-scale psychology. It uses techniques borrowed from psychology and uses them on masses instead of individuals.
  • In doing so, marketing turns psychology's goal upside down: psychology was born to dialogue with irrationality until it is cured, whereas marketing's aim is to dialogue with reason until it is deceived. Pyschology's goal is to create or recreate the subject, whereas marketing's goal is to destroy the subject.