Le Monde of Monday My 21, features an article entitled "the consumer liberated". I felt immediatly back in the pre-days of the Internet bulb explosion. But this is more profound.
Where Wall-Mart features "only" 60.000 CDs, the website Rhapsody has 900.000 available. The fact that even just listening to those 900.000 CDs would cost you more than your life time, makes this of course a useless advantage. But who cares? And then the article comes with the example of the group OK Go that made itself known via YouTube. Right, the distribution channels are multiple and some can take advantage of an alternative channel. Does this observation changes anything to the hegemony of MTV?
It really starts on full speed when the articles suggest that the current generation is exposed to such a cultural richness, within an endless diversity. It is enough to pass one evening zapping in front of your TV, in order to see how much that diversity is non-existing. Did this so called diversity lead to more creativity (and music playing) amongst the youth? There is a lot, really a lot, but is it anything different than just "more of the same"? They indeed give the example of Lego that in the simplicity of its offer, puts the creativity with the children. Taylormade: but the taylor is the child.
And then come the academics. For a decent amount they are always willing to contribute a so called scientific view on a market phenomenon. "The long tail", first a blog, later a book, gives the academic backing for this unlimited happiness with the "diversity" of the market. Looking forward: Zappos proposes on line 750.000 pairs of shoes.
But at the end of the day, the only thing we do is alltogether consuming just more and more of things we need less and less. How many mobile phones your household has "consumed" over the last three years? How many iPods has your household "consumed" over the last three years? Did it make us happier? Do we contribute in any way to the (socially responsible) development of our economy, not to speak of the development of mother earth?