Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Marketing : The concept that is shaping the new world

World is becoming more and more consumption driven. In fact, all the barometers of economic prosperity is getting tied to how much, we as an economy can consume. Yes on the face of it we benchmark the health of economy with GDP, but the high GDP is backed by high consumptions. I am not going to get into the debate of whether the consumption driven approach is right or wrong either at economic level or at ethical level, but let's focus on why human as a race is becoming more and more consumption centric.

Rewind the history of humans and let's go to prehistoric age. Humans had barely left the trees and had settled in caves. The caves gave them comfort and security. It was a need to adopt that change. Without that change humans would have disappeared, as it could not run fast and was not strong enough to fight with the likes of Elephants and Tigers. The change was needed for the survival and the same change led to start adopting weapons. 

Then human invented wheels, discovered the use of fire, more sophisticated weapons, harnessed different kind of animals to increase the speed. However the change happened over many centuries and the change was incremental. If you are living in 18th century and go back to 1st and 2nd century and even before that, you might not see a lot of difference in the world. But if you are living now and go to last century or may be if someone from last century appears before us now, they will be shell shocked to see the changes. What has led to this change? Is it because humans have become more intelligent? I do not think so that there is any significant biological evolution that we have become more intelligent. In fact, the way we are surrounded with gadgets it's quite possible that we might start loosing some of our high level cognitive abilities to visualise.

The evolution of whole world can be traced on need based evolution. As the famous saying goes "Need is the mother of invention". We needed something and then some smart guys goes and figures out how to achieve that things. We have invented boats,ships, aeroplanes like that. But then a shift started happening.

Someone along the way realized that why to wait for the Need to be found. It's a painful process as one has to identify a need and then find how to solve that need. Someone realised that the need can also be created and the world started changing. This is a major shift that has happened in recent years in human society. Earlier need used to lead us but now we lead the need. We create new needs on daily basis which essentially is resulting in more consumption. And the whole machinery is working hard to create a need in every thing in life. We have learnt that "Need is the mother of invention" but the new mantra is "Create Invention and make a need for it".

The marketing machinery is full time operational in telling us that how pathetic is our life with the absence of certain things. The human life was never living with such a great sense of guilt ever in history. We are constantly nagged for what we do not have. If I have not travelled to a particular place, I have not lived my life. I need to own certain types of cars. I need to carry certain set of brands with me and around me. 

Marketing is changing the world in far deeper and broader way than we can even comprehend. And this is happening very scientifically. People are pouring their knowledge of psychology and statistics to make people consume more and more, without really understanding that how it is impacting the whole society in longer run. It's no wonder that marketing and advertisements has become one of the major businesses of the world. The people who own marketing channels carry the power to shape the world and it's not an understatement. With new set of technologies, this machinery has mapped each one of use to such an extent that they know what we are going to do next. Where I am going to travel or what kind of food I am inclined to eat. It's awesome and frighting. And they can create a map to migrate us from one set of inclinations to another set. 

Couple of decades back, humans thought process was shaped more by internal debates and the merit and demerit of things the way human used to perceive them. However present day perceptions are created by constant bombarding of messages and cues, overtly and covertly. Joseph Goebbels, the propoganda minister of Adolf Hitler said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." The same can be applied to modern days marketing machinery also. Let's drop the word lie - "If you can tell something and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it".

No one in history would have imagined that something like water will also be sold by humans. I wonder when we will package the air and create a need of only inhaling packaged air. There are enough swine flues and Ebola viruses in the open air.

With this post, I am not impressing that Marketing is necessarily a bad thing or a good thing. It's just one of those phenomena's which impacts the world in a big way. The good and bad both are part of it. 

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