Thursday, January 07, 2010

More Americans Now "Elevating Experiences Over Things"

There's always the instinct to start a new year off deliberately, to take that opportunity to examine the state of the deeper values in your life. (Please bear with us, we're just humoring the staff writer here, let him out to run around the yard a little bit. You know, for the holidays. - Ed.)

So, the theme of this article grabbed my attention, with the additional hook of the setting, Miami, where I lived for many years.

"Quietly but noticeably over the past year, Americans have rejiggered their lives to elevate experiences over things. Because of the Great Recession, a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.

"But Americans are not just getting by with less. They are also doing more. Some are working longer hours, but a larger proportion... are spending additional time with family and friends, gardening, cooking, reading, watching television and ...other hobbies."

"In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less"
By Damien Cave, NY Times, January 2, 2010
Now, the everyday businessperson might well jump on this as a disastrous idea, almost unpatriotic given the limping state of the economy. The very thought of people buying less, much less saying anything to encourage them, sends shivers down their balance sheets.

But why? When people are active, they buy services, and tools and accessories to do things with. If your focus is on how to profit from this population, open an amazing park of some sort and charge them admission. Sell them backpacks, camping gear, cameras...

What we're trying to steer away from here is stuff, defined as the kind of things you buy because it's fun to buy things, the kind which when you discover them in your closet a short time later, you ask yourself why you ever bought — and can't remember.

George Carlin's "Stuff"

I believe you really can't talk about the issue of Stuff without acknowledging George Carlin's classic take on it. Here's a five minute performance of that bit, unusually non-obscene due to its venue, the nationally televised Comic Relief benefit in 1986. ❤

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