Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter - who will buy this wonderful feeling!

easter-bunny jesus.jpg
It's Easter!  Or if it isn't in your time zone yet, it soon will be.

Just like Christmas, we again ponder the contrast between the religious origins of this holiday and the modern interpretations.  In countries all over the world, we
  • paint eggs with bright colours and hide them in the back lawn
  • buy and eat enormous amounts of chocolates and other sweets (to the detriment of our health and budget)
  • celebrate the end of the abstemious month of Lent
  • dress in our best clothes and worship quietly in churches for hours
  • watch our children frolic with adults dressed up in huge bunny suits

OK, so nobody says it has to make sense, and not everybody does all of these things.  But one ultimate truth is that holidays and materialism now go hand in hand, even when the holiday has solemn and meaningful origins.

From Jesus to the credit card
Materialism and Christianity do not share space easily.  But a recent study (involving the New Zealand university my husband attended) shows that Christians resist buying a product marketed in a materialistic way, but will buy the same product when its quality is highlighted instead.

Convince anyone that buying something isn't just acquiring yet another thing (materialism) but actually suits their preferred image of themselves, and you've made the sale.

More materialism
I claim no particular immunity. I am currently wondering what came over me as my children pester me for free access to the extraordinary supply of (vegan) sweets I loaded their Easter basket with.

So what was my preferred image?  That day, I was tired of being super frugal healthy mother who only buys from the markdown table of my local organic shop.  I wanted to be super fun mother who treats her kids just like everybody else for Easter and wow, also is a strong supporter of the organic shop and organic producers by voting with our dollars!

This quiz is a fine example of materialism seeking image dollars.  Being green is great.  See how green you already are...and find out how green you could be if you bought more green products!
  1. Are green products better than conventional products?  Often, yes.
  2. Is there some useful information in this quiz?  Yes. 
  3. Is buying green products the definitive action for being green? Of course - what you consume defines who you are as a person  :)
Reaching for the stars
Materialism so often seems way cool.  The superstardom of the Sex and the City women is only one in a long history of examples.

Almost nobody can afford a wardrobe full of designer clothes and an spotlessly furnished apartment in an exciting city where you eat out 3 times a day, walk around all day with perpetual $5 coffees until you head for dancing or drinking all night.

Even those who earn that much money usually spend most of their lives earning it and not enough enjoying it.

But it's still so fun to dream!

A challenge!
How would you make minimalism or simplicity as sexy as materialism?


  1. Remind me of the article about Philip Mills, owner of multi million dollar Les Mills, in yesterdays Sunday Herald "I don't believe in collecting material acquisitions. If we are going to survive as a [human] race, with a tremendous explosion of affluence, we are going to need to find ways to consuming less materially."

  2. *Reminds*

    Apparently he and his wife own un-flash bikes instead of properties in all the countries of the world they visit

  3. Since starting my journey in minimalism I've finally understood something that I've always known: green=less. I'm becomingly incredibly frustrated by the attitude that we can continue our current lifestyles of excess, as long as we buy 'green' products. It really is just materialism! I also disagree with the 'replace' idea for appliances etc. I've got an old fashioned hot water system, but surely it would be more energy involved in throwing it out now and buying a heat pump system than waiting until it packs it in and THEN replacing it with a heat pump system.

    That's interesting about Christians and materialism. My own view, as a Christian, is to buy the best value, not necessarily the best quality. Though now I'm learning to buy less altogether. Materialism and Christianity don't go together.

  4. I thought the Christian article was very interesting - people who clearly have very firm principles against materialism are still susceptible to these marketing messages.

    The green product problem reflects the idea that our economy needs to be saved as is, but with better products. That promotes the further idea that the same winners from this economy will triumph in a greener economy. I hope that this is not true.

  5. I guess that's how marketing works: giving you a subtle message that you need something when you probably don't.

  6. I too think the study talking about Christians tending to buy things marketed by quality (as opposed to value) is interesting.

    I would say that it's good to buy a product that's high-quality (as it tends to prevent having to re-buy that same product in the future), but at some point you just have to face facts:

    No matter how high quality the product is, if you don't need it it's a waste!

    Great post!

  7. Thanks Robert, great to see you here!

    You've nailed it with "if you don't need it". That goes for high-quality items, or super cheap bargains that seem too good to pass up.