Consumer Essay-Final

There are a large variety of consumers in this world. The pure range of consumers is astounding, beginning from the smallest buyers that, in reality, rent, borrow, and recycle used products; and ending with the biggest money machines that blow through mounds of cash. They spend an astronomical amount of money simply because they have a demand to spend and a supply of money. Our world, and the consumers within it, are so varied that our consumer identity as a nation is in flux. There is a new global movement occuring that is causing a shift in our society’s sense of consumer identitiy. We are moving away from a culture that lives in excess and prides itself on spending the most on the biggest and best new thing. To a society that, as a whole, not only shares, but also searches for the cheapest and most efficient way to consume a product. The way we are beginnning to achieve this super-efficiency is through reusing, trading, and giving away possesions that we either no longer need or has no value to us.

A new concept is emerging in the United States called consumerism. Consumerism is the concept of both how our population as a whole purchases and consumes goods, and how we as individuals participate in the world, and local markets. Even though consumerism is a new concept, the identity of the United States and the world is in flux. As of now consumerism is the way a group or society uses and purchases their goods. Consumerism can be measured in several different circumstances, but in identical manners. The definition of consumerism may stay the same, but the sample group size can change significantly. For example, we can take a broad sample and see how we as a nation consume goods, then compare that with how us as a university consume goods at Washington State University. It is vital for us to thoroughly understand consumerism and how it applies to us. We can use our own measured consumerism and apply it to see how we can save money and use more while consuming less.

“[The] power-drill will be used about twelve to fourteen times in its entire lifetime,” -Rachel Botsman. We grew up in a time where it was normal to purchase a product and use it just as much as we needed. Which is fine, but it is horribly inefficient. Objects are used so little for the amount that we pay for them, that it is time for us to rethink the way we live and consume. We are changing into a culture where collaborative consumption is prevailing as the preferred way to consume.  Collaborative consumerism involves the use, reuse, and recycle of products. Through collaborative consumption we can reduce our environmental impact on our planet and save money.

Sadly I would have to align myself with the stereotypical American spender. I have a tendency to spend more money than I should or than I need because a new commodity sounds a lot better than it actually is. The feeling of purchasing something is a sort of rush or good feeling. This sensation could be caused by the satisfaction of needing something new that we wanted and wasn’t previously owned. My poor habits as a consumer leads to me to believe that a I should change my consumer identity and the way I view consumerism. I need to become a deconsumer and a reconsumer so that I can save money, and so that when I am done using a product or commodity it is so thoroughly used that it can be used no longer.

There are several reasons why I may need to change my consumer behavior, the main reason being that I am a college student and this is a time in my life when I need to find ways to save the maximum amount of money possible. Changing my consumer mindset to one where I am geared to save and reuse, prevents me from buying more things than I need, and it allows me to get the maximum value out of the products I consume.

Everyone who has either played a sport or watched television in their lifetime has seen or heard a Gatorade advertisement. The company advertises gatorade as a must-have product that is essential for physical activity. Gatorade advertises a sports drink that is high in electrolytes, and other nutrients that people lose through sweat, during physical exertion. Gatorade is also very tasty, high in sugar (high fructose corn syrup), and has an excessive amount of ions inside, for any short or long term strenuous exercise. How does Gatorade deceive us in buying a product that is seemingly good for us, and apparently perfectly suited for athletes? Quite simply, the gatorade adds appeal our three senses of the rhetorical. It appeals to our logos, ethos, and pathos.

The Gatorade adds appeal to logos in various ways. The first is the way Gatorade presents itself as a sports drink that is vital for anyone that is involved in any exercise or anything athletic. Gatorade advertises that it contains essential electrolytes and nutrients that we lose in sweat through exercise. This may be true, but hardly any of us actually work hard enough or long enough for us to need those nutrients, because our body doesn’t get rid of them that quickly. It takes a minimum of about thirty minutes of strenuous to even begin to need gatorade. Also, obviously since gatorade is a liquid sports drink it is designed and advertised to hydrate our bodies. So one would reason that it is logical and healthy for us to consume gatorade to stay hydrated, but this is simply not true. Gatorade is filled with other things besides the electrolytes and other nutrients that are only vital when going through strenuous exercise. Water is a much better fluid to hydrate ourselves as apposed to gatorade for daily and nonphysically demanding hydration.

The next thing the advertisements appeal to is our sense of ethos. Gatorade’s advertisement presents itself as an extremely credible product that is backed by years of research and experience. Just from this fact alone combined with wide-spread use of Gatorade, and the athletic endorsements grant Gatorade the credibility it needs to appeal to our sense of ethos.

The final part of the rhetorical triangle involves pathos. The Gatorade advertisements appeal to our sense of pathos by portraying their product as a must have thirst-quenching product. In order for a product to appeal to our senses it must not only appear to satisfy our future demands, but must also be presented to us in the proper setting. For example, in the gatorade advertisement it is presented to us with a sunny and an apparently hot and sunny climate. If the product was advertised in a cold or unappealing environment there would be no interest or desire to consume the product.

The parody I created for the Gatorade advertisement sheds light on the true nature of Gatorade. Gatorade is no doubt a good product, but if it is used properly. The average Gatorade user consumes the sports drink frequently and they consume, when they are not involved in strenuous exercise, but rather when they are lounging around their house and they just want a flavored drink. My advertisement for Gatorade portrays their product the way it actually used amongst most consumers. The advertisement is portrayed through my photograph of a person sitting next to their computer staring at a screen exerting no physical effort what so ever. Gatorade is also deceptive, one of the electrolytes that is in Gatorade is sodium. Sodium is a strong electrolyte and it helps with flavor, but an excessive amount causes us to be parched. Gatorade actually begins a cycle where we feel like we need to consume more, because of the sodium concentration and the feeling of being thirsty.

In order for me to change my consumer identity, I had to take a look at the world of consumption from a different perspective. I had gifted away a possession  that I had. The object wasn’t just something that I found in my room it was a commodity that I used quite frequently. The product was my xbox copy of FIFA 10. I had this game for about two years now and it was still one of the greatest games that I owned. Since this had value to me and I was thinking of upgrading to the new FIFA 13 I  knew it was the perfect thing to give away to a friend and allow my self to become part of the new world of collaborative consumption. I ended up giving the product to my friend and in return he helped me out with some of my homework assignments for English 101. The trade worked perfectly, because now he helps me whenever I need some, and he thoroughly enjoys the game by playing it repeatedly. I also enjoyed this because now that I didn’t have a game I decided to upgrade and purchase the new FIFA 13 which is coming out this fall.

Through these projects I have learned much more about our world’s consumer identity and how we can and need to change in order to become a more efficient society. We currently live in a world where it is the norm to spend excessively and to buy then discard. Our world, myself included, must rethink the way we consume and must turn toward the new concept of collaborative consumption.

Revision History 

Draft 1

Draft 2

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