Consumers Buy Less Things, More Experiences: The younger generations value going places more than having things.

Author:Ciaramella, Elainna
 
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In our modern world, developed countries are consuming more than ever before. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 25 percent of the world's population-1.7 billion-make up the "global consumer class." A sector characterized by higher levels of debt, the desire for a bigger house, fancier cars, designer threads, and a lifestyle centered around the insatiable hunger to amass non-essential material items.

Rising consumption undoubtedly creates jobs and stimulates economies, but at what cost to the environment? Consumption is taking a devastating toll on our oceans and the Earth's natural resources, but that's not all. Consumers are accumulating more debt and working longer hours to "keep up with the Joneses." "Excess consumption can be counterproductive," Gary Gardner, the director of research at Worldwatch told National Geographic. "The irony is that lower levels of consumption can actually cure some of these problems."

A shift

But there has been a shift, especially among millennials. According to "Generations on the Move," for decades, the American economy was all about materialism, with marketing and advertising efforts focused on selling material products. But we're seeing a shift. 74 percent of Americans now prioritize experiences over things.

Baby boomers and millennials alike are embracing the "less is more" ideology, though millennials are doing so for different reasons. Millennials want to share their lives, not things, on social media and if they have nothing to broadcast, they feel like they're missing out. After all, a post with tandem skydiving over the Wasatch Front is far more exciting than a pic of a new designer handbag or suit.

As Americans, we're born into a culture of buying. But collecting all these things we don't need doesn't buy happiness. A series of three studies conducted by Paulina Pchelin and Ryan T. Howell at San Francisco State University revealed that "people enjoy greater well-being from life experiences and consider them to be a better use of money." I have to agree. I would much rather talk about the family backpacking trip I went on as a teen to Sequoia National Park where we saw a bear and bathed in a chilly river than revel In the latest pair of jeans that I bought, and really didn't need.

According to Jennifer Leaver, senior tourism analyst with the Kern C. Gardner Policy Institute, experiences keep more of the money in the local community than material good spending. "If a visitor paid a local Daggett...

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