I watched a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix a few days ago. It was definitely largely based on American culture but I found it nonetheless insightful even from a Scandinavian perspective. This documentary revolved around a movement of people who lived their lives with rather little belongings. Now we’re not talking about people who vagabond their way around the world with only a toothbrush, a pair of socks and utter hippy idealism. We’re talking about people who simply decided they don’t need 15 different light blue button ups and a house full of unused corners which desperately need a collection of scented candles and decorative seashell arrangements in order to be happy. People who think consciously what they buy. They talked about capsule wardrobes, tiny homes and sustainability.
In our over-hectic and over-materialistic world, the subject is more current than ever. With the abundance of bits, bobs and bubblewrap from yet another impromptu Asos order, I believe it is necessary to stop and think about mindful consuming. I definitely have lived a phase in my life where I was not able to just pass through the lipstick aisle since there always was a desperate, bottomless need for a new shade of mauve. I have yet to find that sense of completion with my quest for the mauves but the past year has gotten me thinking about my cosmetic hoarding more critically. Having had to go through yet another move in a foreign country with just two pieces of luggage and having fallen from the monthly Stockholm paycheck to a not-so-luxurious budget of an unemployed student, not only is money but also storage space tight. All of my earthly belongings now fit into those few luggages and a few boxes back at my parents’ attic. Am I any unhappier without a gazillion picture frames and that baby pink leather jacket I never actually wore? Not really. I doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy all things pretty, I am a hopeless aesthete after all, but it does mean that a collection of a 1000 different pretty things will not make my life any more fulfilling. So it’s not the act of consuming that is destroying the world and our overflowing minds. It’s not being able to recognize what are the things that truly bring us joy (I know, hard not to think about KonMari without a touch of ridicule but she has a grain of truth in her philosophy). #Lifegoals, and most definitely #earthgoals, are not reached by pursuing to buy our way into the eden of happiness through stilettos and shopping sprees.
The documentary also made me think a lot about my position not just as a consumer but as a marketer. We tend to talk a lot about environmental responsibility when it comes to marketing communications, which is important of course, but what about sosiocultural responsibility? Do we as marketers want to contribute into a culture of mindless shopping and educate consumers into buying 52 different it items per year to keep up with the trends? Do we want to lure kids into thinking that possessions bring you happiness, power and social success? As a coming graduate, a cynic might say still idealistic and naive, I’ve tried to consider what kind of message I would like to leave to this world with my work. I love powerful brands, creative advertising, innovative products and services. I still do love mauves, picture frames and scented candles, in an occasional moment of mental alienation I even long for that pink leather jacket. But I don’t love overflowing wardrobes and attics that look like they would need a hoarding expert to push through the clutter. And as a marketer, I don’t want to make anyone else feel like they should.
Marketing is about influencing. What kind of influence do you want to be part of?