Hamburg (dpa) – While the complaints in the economy about the slowdown in consumption are getting louder and louder, more and more people suddenly discover the charm of modesty. Ironically, the advertising has found the right slogan for rampant savings. The multimedia chain Saturn lets a young beauty in a spot “stinginess is cool!” roar. And really, surveys show that many people are quite satisfied even without the smartest phones, latest computers and household appliances.
dpa Who brought an old TV to the mechanic in the boomerang of the ’90s, instead of buying the latest models with flat screens and all the harassment? Today, according to a representative survey conducted by the Berlin Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), 87 percent of Germans say they would rather carry defective devices for repair than for trash – if there was only one option. Only 36 percent consider it important that their purchases match the “current fashion trend”.
It does not always have to be luxury – in the face of economic fears of prosperity and stubbornly constant uncertainty about the euro change a reassuring realization. In fact, the desire to buy has gone by the Germans like a hunger for hunger. “The propensity to buy is as low as we have not measured since 1980,” says market researcher Rolf Bürkl of the Society for consumer, market and sales research in Nuremberg. In November, the slowdown in consumption will intensify again. Bruno Sälzer, CEO of HUGO BOSS AG, recently said: “In Germany, 2002 is considered the most difficult year in men’s fashion since 1949.” Such gloomy historical comparisons can be heard more often these days.
The shoppers gnawed at earnings and careers in industry and business. But what does it mean for consumers if they can not afford so much of what glitters? Chic travel or whirring cars and mini scooters are finally status symbols. “Consumer goods have become a means of communication,” says Viennese consumer researcher Karl Kollmann – both in Germany and in Austria. “I’m going on an exclusive vacation or buying a camera phone not just for enjoyment,” says the author of relevant studies, “but also because you can talk about it.”
But not only the wealth, but also the desire to spend money reaches its limits. “There are breaks for the 25 to 30 year olds”, says Kollmann. In many young families starting with the first child a mixture of thriftiness, other values and environmental awareness to displace the drive to buy. “You do not have to have a new car every four years and a new computer every two years.” While in many seniors a new hedonism replaces the old frugality, a trend among younger people in big cities in the opposite direction: From the need to not afford everything, many make a study according to studies of sociologists. Respected in the circle of friends is just not more, but less, maybe other consumption.
For example, some marketing experts have in the past expressed great hope in lending and leasing concepts. After all, lending – and thus sharing – is usually cheaper and far more environmentally friendly than buying. But whether car sharing or borrowed tools – “these are product-dependent niche markets”, IÖW researcher Gerd Scholl curbs corresponding hopes. Only when skiing boome the rental. The recreational winter sports fans would not come up with the purchase behind the constant innovations in skiing, carving and snowboarding. That’s why they resort to rentable equipment in the winter sports areas.
The dream of politically correct consumption without possession is the conclusion of Scholl and his colleagues. He is currently but rather dreamed of a minority. For a majority, however, the nightmare of unsatisfied consumerism seems increasingly to come true.