- Gradually destructive; steadily harmful: corrosive anxiety; corrosive increases in prices; a corrosive narcotics trade.
Before I get started, I don’t want to scare you all away, this is by no means intended to be a lecture on how trivial and narcissistic you are if you enjoy browsing Net-A-Porter more than once a day. I am writing this from within that garden wall no doubt. But sometimes it is good to force introspection (especially introspection of a mindset which sees you racking up many a credit card bill every month …)
Someone much smarter than me, Aimee Dinnin at the University of Ontario, produced a paper aptly named ‘The Appeal of Our New Stuff‘. Now I desperately wanted to just copy and paste Aimee verbatim here, as she certainly has a way with words, but at the risk of feeling lazy I’m going to have a go at this myself.
In short, humans are attracted to ‘newness’. The value we attribute to a product is derived from a desire to be the first user of a new product and the subsequent experience of owning it creates that value.
For example, you saw that Mansur Gavriel bag on Instagram last year and you wanted to be part of that initial wave of leather bucket owners. If you had bought that bag 12 months ago, by now the you who managed to get your paws on that buck-hide leather pouch probably would not be as delighted by it as the you who is still at the top of that waiting list and yet to experience owning it.
Aimee provides 2 explanations for why the joy of newness wears off;
- It fades through product usage (ie. several blog posts or Instagram photos of your bucket bag later)
- The user adapts to possession (how many things in your wardrobe would you be instantly more attracted to if they were in someone else’s hmm?)
We have all experienced that sense of newness fading over time. This fading appeal I refer to as my ‘Satisfaction Cycle’ – even without a description, any shoppers among you will know of this cycle. You buy it, you get shopper satisfaction (or guilt if it was a particularly bad purchase and that’s another cycle all together) and eventually the feeling of excitement wears off.
You don’t get it – just 4 weeks ago it was the best thing you had ever laid eyes on and now your gaze was drifting.
This cycle can take days, weeks or even months but eventually that cycle comes full circle and you’re back silently typing your credit card details into ASOS whilst your S.O sleeps (no I’m not projecting…)
Obviously this fulfillment model based on newness is not sustainable. Being attracted to newness is self-perpetuating in that it creates short-term value, because you want MORE NEW STUFF again and again.
Fashion, and in particular trends, are fast. You only have to look at the vast quantities of visual wishlists provided by the last 4 weeks of shows. And with the rise of social media we get a constant and endless stream of ‘new’ stuff to desire and aspire to own feeding the part of our brain that wants the newness too.
So the real question is, is this a problem? What do you think? And how long does your satisfaction cycle last?
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