A Case of Consumption

In early 20th century British novels the term “consumption” generally refers to TB, but encompasses a variety of diseases that relentlessly sap the heroines’ life energy. I would argue that in 21st century America the term now refers to the compulsion of heroines to consume (a.k.a. shop) relentlessly for entertainment. Similar effect, just on the heroines’ life’s savings.

Being afflicted with consumption and bombarded with an in-box of special offers, I felt compelled to begin the long Thanksgiving weekend with cyber-shopping. According to CNBC, I was not alone, “The latest estimates show shoppers scooping up early special offers via their smart phones and tablets, the way they used to hunt for bargains in brick-and-mortar stores.” While football-fever gripped others in my household, I spent two entertaining afternoons online comparison shopping and placing many nice things in shopping carts. Only bought one thing – just wasn’t the experience I wanted. According to this edifying CNNMoney infographic, others were more satisfied with online shopping.

Last night, in a fit on consumption and football-avoidance, I visited the local mall to see what was on offer. Several things impressed me:

  • Stores were overflowing with merchandise, most of it glittery
  • Everything in every store was at least 30% off, except the Christmas music
  • People were everywhere, but most were package-free
  • Men who couldn’t manage to watch football instead overflowed from the Apple store onto walkway benches
  • In nearly every store, women were fingering the countless sequined party dresses and tops

When women with consumption enter a mall after Thanksgiving, they feel compelled to buy glittery party dresses at 30% off. Some succumb, as there merchandisers clearly hoped. Others – realizing they have no actual dressy holiday parties scheduled – try to satisfy their consumption with “things they need.” Thus the boot section of department shoe stores is madness. If boots won’t satisfy, costume jewelry or makeup probably will. Along the way, a few gifts might be purchased – or at least showroomed.

To get people off their iPads and into the stores, the discounts are already competitive. Per the CNBC article, “At the mall, stores continued to use discounts to lure shoppers on Saturday, with Aeropostale discounting items as much as 70 percent, rival American Eagle Outfitters…at 40 percent off, and Gap… offering 60 percent discounts.” Clearly they are trying to unload cotton pullovers before the holidays.  I predict there are going to be a lot of glittery dresses on extreme sale immediately after the holidays.  Because even women with consumption have to take a breather in January.

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About Lorena Harris

Lorena Harris has more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with large business service companies. Her expertise is in designing research-based content marketing programs for brand building and demand generation. Since earning her MBA from Duke, Lorena has built revenue-generating marketing programs for $B+ B2B service companies such as Fiserv, First Data and Vantiv (financial services), ADP (employee benefit services), Convergys (contact center services) and Donnelly (publishing services). More information available on linkedin.com/in/lorenaharris.
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