Introduction Damien Cave’s essay On Sale at Old Navy discusses about the negative influence of mass-market retail stores on American life. According to him mass-market retail stores like Old Navy and Ikea are robbing people of their individual choice by offering them selected options…
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In my paper I would like to differ from Cave’s perspective that mass-market retail shops are damaging originality and controlling independent choice. My focus would be on how this form of marketing has broken the conventional ideas and ushered a new trend consumerism based on mass appeal. The consumerist trend There is no denying the fact that the whole system of marketing has become buyer-centric. This client-centric approach is the new policy of consumerism and it has percolated in every sphere of life from education to health organizations. Everywhere the target is to satisfy as many people as possible. Therefore this consumerist trend could be considered as a natural process of economic evolution. Even Cave admits that “consumerism is good for the economy” and that people are apparently satisfied. But the fact remains that no brand can stand the test of time if people are not satisfied longtime. Cave points out that these brand oriented retail stores are duping people outright by providing branded stuff at a cheaper rate sacrificing quality. In this case the statistics of repeat returns will show the success or failure of the merchandising strategy of a store. People would not return to a particular store if they are unhappy with the product. Prioritizing public demand According to Cave people who visit such retail stores like Old Navy and Ikea are gradually losing their individuality and are getting conditioned “ into automatons who] equate being cool with buying cheap stuff that everyone else has.” It is a fact that these mass-market retail stores are selling identical stuff in masses but are also catering to the needs of the public demand. Nowadays a lot of surveys are conducted before launching the production of any item. Based on the survey results and on the understanding of the public mentality a product is developed and modified. There is the dynamics of give and take in the present buyer-seller relationship. The concept of marketing has come a long way and instead of being considered as automatons as claimed by Cave, public interests and demands are being given priority. So it is not about catering to individual needs but about catering to the needs of a larger population. It is cost effective for the sellers as well as cheaper for the buyers with the need fulfillment of both the parties. Economy controls the context Individuality is a construct of time and context. It is obvious that the concept of individuality will shift from what it was even a decade ago. And as economy dictates the socio-political contexts the different social constructs like individuality, cultural identity change accordingly. In the present American context the concept of individuality is no longer constrained to individual pursuits and feats but shared experiences through increasing social networking. From this perspective it could be said that contrary to crushing our individuality, such stores make a common ground of social exchange and become the topic of communication. As these mass-market retail stores are dominating a considerable section of economy it makes them the present discourse. People are talking about them and the era of brand-oriented retail stores for common people has definitely arrived. As for beguiling people with lures that would result in unnecessary purchase depends on how people are responding. For there had always
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