The Oxford English Dictionary defines Consumerism as: ‘the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods’.
Hailing from Lahore I am all too familiar with this term. Lahoris are known to be spenders be it big houses, big cars, big brands. Lahoris like it BIG. Especially in the last few years, a wave of consumerism has swept over the country. A more open economy, and the rise of the nouveau riche ( mainly due to the property boom) has led to foreign brands rushing in. If you don’t have the dough for the latest LV worry not China has your back. The ‘elite’ shop from abroad and china fills up stores with replicas for those who want to ‘get the look’. The economist in me says it’s all a factor of income levels. But I know it’s not just that. The desire to look good is a factor of culture too. Lahoris like to look good. So do Singaporeans. Malaysians love it.
When I moved to Singapore in 2004, I heard about how the ‘four Cs’ govern the ambitions of the large female work force. Condo, credit card, car and Chanel. Singapore is the largest market for luxury goods in the world. They have the income levels to match. The Singapore government runs the biggest subsidized housing program in the world. Singapore also has one of the lowest marriage and child bearing rates in the world. All this translates into less worries, higher disposable incomes, more Chanels.
In 2010 I moved to Kuala Lumpur. Huge malls mark the city. Do not enter one especially on the weekend without dressing up; you will feel like shit otherwise.
2015. Tanzania. Time warp. Pakistan early 90s (late 80s? Haha) No malls, no brands. DaresSalaam does boast of Tanzania’s largest mall-Mlimani city. The tenant list can fit a small post-it though. You have Splash and Baby shop and Giordano and a Kenyan grocery/department store, nakumatt. Then there a South African grocery place, Game. Yeah that’s it. Wait there’s KFC too. That’s Tanzanians biggest mall.
Where do people shop from? Or do they not shop at all? How about like ummm..clothes? Shoes? Bags? I’m sure I’m missing something here. Hoping to put the pieces together soon!
While the mad consumer in me cringes, I think it might be time to take a break and focus on the finer things in life like hmmm the pool and the palm trees shadowing it.
Tanzania still has a few decades before consumerism sweeps it up too. Till then some may rejoice. Some may cringe. Like King Julien says ‘no mattaa!’