Heading I: Situations that leads people to shop to excess Shopping to excess, a condition also known as compulsive shopping can be described as an irresistible urge to buy or shop which leads to spending much more than can be afforded or needed. This makes the compulsive buyers to have short of money at the end of every month. There are many reasons that can be used to explain why people tend to have compulsive buying behavior. For instance, individuals who grew up in the poor family might need to over compensate as adults.
Such people may end up for example having several pieces of clothing, some of which might never be worn, or their price tags removed. Therefore, as many compulsive shoppers have described dysfunction childhood, shopping in excess makes them to develop a feeling of self worth and self esteem. People who grew out of object poverty and never seemed to have enough of anything would thus shop out of hoard so as to ease the pain of loneliness, disappointment, rejection or loss (Rasmussen, 2000). Compulsive buyers can be said to have a behavior same as the drug addicts or gamblers.
They will only feel relieved when they have ended up with an item from the shops. Though many of the compulsive buyers do deny and rationalize their buying behavior. There are also several issues that can increase compulsive shoppers to purchase and then pay later. Compulsive buying can as well be increased with sales promotions and holidays. Furthermore, unsolicited and preapproved credit cards can encourage compulsive buying. These buyers have been mostly found to avoid spending money on necessities and are also not ready to pay income taxes.
Many women than men have been found to be compulsive buyers (Rasmussen, 2000). Heading II: Description and Analysis Compulsive buying has been widely said to cause a reduction of tension among the buyers, but it ultimately leads to social and/or financial problems. Hence it can be said that compulsive buying provides short term gratifications to the buyers, but it causes harm to the individual and/or others. Therefore, compulsive buying is one failures of self regulation. Many of the compulsive buyers buy multiple similar items in different shopping trips. In such cases, the immediate positive gratitude makes a compulsive buyer to repeat similar behavior in the future.
This in the end is likely to contribute to snowballing effect. Many researchers have proved that compulsive buyers do not obtain goods due to primary motive desire of having the good, but rather it is due to the temporary mood or self esteem improvement (Baumeister & Vohs 2004). This has been supported by the fact that many compulsive buyers do not use the products they purchase, as many of the products remain in their original package with price tags still attached. Since compulsive buyers shop to arouse their moods, they do report negative moods prior to shopping and a state of positive mood after they have shopped.
Baumeister & Vohs (2004) have argued that compulsive buying may be particularly susceptible to cognitive narrowing while shopping. The shoppers frequently notice stimuli such as color, texture sounds and smell while shopping. Compulsive buyers are involved in external stimuli which lead to the concept of absorption. Hence the compulsive buyers have been rated to score high on personality trait of absorption concepts than the other normal consumers. The compulsive shoppers views the intense level of cognitive narrowing accompanied with this kind of shopping to be desirable.
This can be a case which can explain why many compulsive buyers do consider sales people as being intruders, and thus prefer to go shopping on their own. Compulsive buyers also experience fantasies such as the feeling of being admired or being powerful during the shopping period. Compulsive buyers are more prone to fantasizing than are the other normal consumers. Compulsive buying can also be looked at in a different perspective, i. e. on a medical perspective. In this case, the disorder is seen as having broader psychiatric disorder having many characteristics in common.
Those who support the notion that compulsive buying are qualitatively different from normal buying see the motivation behind this behavior as stemming from these psychiatric characteristics and unrelated to a functional desire for items purchased”, (Ratneshwar, Mick & Huffman, 2000 Pp 177). This has been supported for instance by looking at the characteristics of binge eating women and the non-binge eating women. It has been found that the women suffering from binge eating disorder have more of compulsive buying behavior than the women of the same weight who are non-binge eating women.
According to Ratneshwar, Mick and Huffman (2000), the compulsive buyers have also been found to have higher levels of alcoholism, drug addiction, pathological gambling and kleptomania. It is also highly believed that women are more likely to engage in compulsive buying than men. This is mostly because women and men relate differently to their material possession. Women tend to value emotional and symbolic possessions of their materials, while the men on the other hand favor functional and leisure items. Women and men compulsive buying may thus differ alongside the instrumental vs. motional dimensions.
The use of credit cards is also one of the main causes of excess buying. The use of credit cards leads to higher spending. Therefore the use of credit cards can be linked to “hyperbolic discounting”, which in economic terms imply an extreme case to discount in the future. Incase compulsive buyers experience a sense of anxiety and they feel that buying can be used as a compensation strategy, then the general propensity for compensatory and compulsive buying will automatically increase. Heading III: Principles
Compensatory and compulsive buying are emerging to be negative by-products of consumer cultures worldwide. The propensity to a person’s compulsive buying and compensatory buying can be said to arise above a person’s severe distortions of autonomy. Generally, the attempts to compensate these distributions are usually stimulated. It thus requires a high degree of self control to avoid the cases of arising in the issues of various negative problems. For instance, it requires a high degree of discipline to stroll past goods in display, and walk casually without interrupting the display.
One of the best skills is to learn how to keep a sensible distance, which can be achieved by consumer education that can give emphasis on consumer competence. Although this can be affected by the fact that it is not clear how the skills can be taught and learned. The central element in compulsive buying is due to the inability to exert control. The other best strategy is to focus on the product durability rather than novelty. In this, it means that the items that an individual can buy and becomes emotionally attached to them makes it impossible to buy some more items.
This can be easily achieved by doing a research on getting goods that are able to serve you well simply because they are both physically durable and that they won’t go out of fashion easily. Furthermore, it is important to think of all other significant purchases and their long term consequences. For instance incase of upgrading a computer, how much of the old software will still be used? Hence, the best way to go about this is first to avoid the good that has been contemplated to be purchased and see if you can actually do without the good and if cant, then you will know that you really need it.
This will then help in deciding whether to buy it or not. Many organizations display different products depending on taste, individuality and characters of individual consumers. It is however odd that we must have things that others have to establish our distinction and credentials. This has made some consumer goods to become of public scrutiny. However, the public does not scrutinize some of the exclusive and expensive advertisements of certain commodities placed on various Medias. These commodities are usually only affordable to the few members of the society who can afford the price of such commodities.
The society has not yet developed a means of stigmatizing the owning and displaying of exclusive products. It is hardly noticed that companies advertise these commodities to a large audience that cannot afford them and would thus go as far as doing anything so as to obtain those commodities. Therefore, awareness can help consumers to break down the association and save them from triggers of symbolic spending. Marketers use symbols to attract consumers since they know they reside in the unconsciousness of the consumer’s realm.
If as a consumer you see that you really want a certain good yet you do not need it, then it might just be that it has a recurring symbolic fantasy that is attached to it. According to Schor (1998), “laying bare the fantasy illuminates the often tenors link between the product and the dream, thereby reducing the power of the object”, (Para 12). The symbolism is usually destroyed when the identity of a product and consumption are linked. The symbolic are however not easy to break since they are woven in our daily lives. Consumers have high profound emotional connections to the commodities.
It is not easy to control spending by the compulsive buyers unless they confront the symbolism head on. The financial pressures in people grow with the increase in the number of prestigious products. Self control is also a very important aspect in avoiding shopping to excess. If most people agree that it is good to put limit on the office gift Christmas exchange, the same can also be applied to the holiday spending for the families. In the traditional past, there were powerful limitations that were placed on collective spending.
Competitive spending was restrained in traditional societies through various spending taboos. In many cases, different religious sects have highly advocated for simplicity and moderation. There was also the notion of sufficiency which controlled and regulated consumption, but was long discarded in the promise of mass prosperity. In the end, it became apparent that aggressive spending was made patriotic. The indication of spending too much has become a cast of attractive trait. All these can be said to have been voluntary controls which if they are not welcomed by people, then they wont work.
The values do as well need to be instituted collectively. Many individuals can buck the system, although a few people are inclined. Since consuming is a social act, therefore, it is the same for consuming differently. In the society, being part of a spending trend is much comfortable than being an oddball. The other principle that can help to avoid excessive shopping is learning to share both as a borrower and a lender. There are certain items that each individual does not necessarily need to have but can share with neighbors and/or friends. For instance, we can take the case of a riding mower.
It is not a commodity that a person will require twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, but would only be needed when there is need to mow. Therefore, friends or neighbors can come together and purchase the mower that can be used by all of them and thus avoid having to buy individual’s mower that is least needed. Such products can be called library products, (Schor, 1998). Therefore, it makes sense to undertake lending libraries for commodities that are not constantly in use. It can as well be important for the commodities that are inexpensive and may be of little useful to the individual, and that it does not wear out easily.
At some instances, the commodities can be found and used by relying on rentals and second hands. Some commodities like the CD’s and toys can be exchanged with friends and neighbors and thus avoid the cumbersome steps of buying and selling, while at the same time allows the consumer to use a popular product again and again. These initiatives have however been limited in the society, which implies they need jump starting. In low income areas, the government can take the initiative of providing the monies for the initial purchase of the commodities perceived to be of library nature.
Although most of the Americans do like to be possessive, they can as well put in practice the initiatives. This would reduce spending in the society and channel the money for individual ownership to other purposes. The other principle is becoming an educated consumer, by deconstructing the commercials seen and heard in the Medias. As a consumer, try to look for instance at the advertisement and ask yourself if you are ready to join a fashion trend that makes the youths to hook up to their parents to the communities they can barely afford.
Once you have been able to learn and synthesize the adverts, then you can move to the other step whereby you can investigate the commodities you purchase and use. From the commodities, you can look at what they taught you in school and what you did not learn. It is ironical that the education system makes people with the highest degrees to be the most susceptive to paying extra cash of designers’ names, status and prestige (Schor, 1998). These groups shop more, and they are influenced by the reference and have more pressure to keep up.
This can be attributed to the fact that the school system teaches us how to want things rather than how to choose wisely. To change this need to start looking beyond the seductive features of the products and look at the superficial appearance of the products on the airwaves and the shelves. To become an educated consumer, you cannot only rely on the information that is given by the manufactures of certain commodities. Companies are never ready to reveal any negative information about the product they produce. Furthermore, Americans need to learn more about spending, budgeting and how to plan their finances, be patient and know how to save.
Many of the families do not have budgets and the few who have do not follow them at all. The children need to be taught about savvy consumers, and the forewarned especially on the growth of credit cards. Everybody needs to become conscious about the financial costs of the work-and-spend lifestyles. The other principle that can help in avoiding excessive shopping is by avoiding retail therapy. Since spending is addictive, Many Americans use consuming in different ways. For instance, fighting blues, to savor a happy moment, to reward themselves, to enhance self esteem, or to escape from boredom (Schor 1998).
Consumensarism in America is so pervasive that it has become a problem to control. It is not clear how many Americans suffer from compulsive buying. But millions of people exhibit high generalized tendency to buy. This is because majority of the shoppers admit that shopping makes them feel good. To avoid the compulsive purchasing, an individual should first analyze his/her individual character. Compulsive buyers are more oriented to fantasies and day dreaming and tend to be more materialistic. In consumption, they tend to believe that it is a social status.
After figuring out what kind of a consumer you are, then, you should avoid exposure to tempting situations. Then you can as well avoid impulse buying. You can as well avoid using plastic and use only cash so that the cost of purchasing can seem to be real. Avoiding using a card over the phone or the internet but instead use a cheque. Construct a purchasing list thoughtful before going to the stores. Many people have now days have ensured that they commit themselves to automatic withdrawal saving plan as the only way of ensuring that saving actually takes place.
Heading IV: Results In applying the principle of controlling ones desires, it is possible to avoid the craving to want certain goods by focusing on the fact that you have to stop wanting this and that since there shall not be an end to these behavior of wanting. This can take time but with a little effort you can be in a position to avoid actually what you do not need. This can only be measured by the fact that you will be in a position to own only goods are that highly needed and not having goods that are rarely needed and used.
Furthermore, considering that in a space of a few years there were millions of Americans who joined a movement to switch off their televisions in April, and if this was successful and was only due to self control, then the issue of for instance purchasing unwanted clothes can be avoided by self control. This can be by pledging to purchase only the required clothes. The social life by which people also share commodities that are not necessarily needed by an individual person can as well be achieved. This has been experienced in Seattle, where the social support has made the world a different place (Schor, 1998).
Although lending libraries might initially be faced with the problems that are associated with cooperative efforts e. g. squabbling and freeloading, the success of the normal book libraries suggest that this mentality can be washed away and the system thus succeed. With this, there can also be an increased social interaction as an additional benefit to the system and remove the social classes in the society. This system can be successful if many people share commodities that are not necessarily needed by individuals. Heading V: Ethics The use of the credit cards has been one of the main reasons considered as the cause of excessive shopping.
It is now a fact that we have accepted the use of credit cards as part of the American society. It is however not right to just treat behaviors that seem to be prevalent in our society as ethical norms. Therefore there is need to regulate the use of these credit cards no matter the implications that they might bring so as to continue upholding the societies responsibility of sound economic practices. All the involved stakeholders have to take part in controlling the issues related to the use of credit cards especially to the college students which tends to put them at debts at a tender age.
It is especially wrong to take advantage of consumers for the sake of making profits. However, the credit card companies can take initiatives to act in fiduciary capacity and approximately guiding the consumers on financial success through responsible extension of credit. All these control can be taken by the government without necessarily violating the rights of the consumers, and it will on the other hand make the consumers to be more informed on how to avoid to plunge themselves into more debts by using the credit cards that leads to excessive shopping.