Under the Influence; conflicting economic thoughts
By Aaron Bare – CEO, CareerTours
Consumer behavior is under the influence. We are highly incentivize to behave in irrational ways. Understanding the variables is part of sobering up to the life you want to live. Yet, we must do something about the conundrum that faces us every day, you know exactly when this happens – order a salad or make justification for a burger. The forces that influence us boil down to only a few, as Cialdini teaches us in Powers of Influence. Knowing that scarcity, authority, social proof, liking, consistency, contrast and reciprocity are ways that we make influential decisions, this is only a small part of the equation. These are obvious to me and I understand every part of my life and why I want to be affiliated with some things and not others. I understand why I drive a Mercedes and why we moved our companies office to Sky Song, the future of the modern workplace. I seek comfort and happiness in everything I do. My car moves me around comfortably and my new office connects me to more people in Phoenix than our office in the Airpark.
To stress this, here is an example, America is fatter than ever and everyone is on a diet. What are the incentives that force some contradictory behavior? Price is no longer an issue for the vast majority of our middle class society consumes luxury goods from $5 Latte’s to $500 Coach purses. Even the poor in America live a lifestyle that exceed those 50-75 years ago. We must consider the fact that marketing persuades so much of our thoughts, with nearly 3,000 messages infiltrating our filters, a few get through every day and influence us to be part of their message. People affiliate themselves with brands, in former blogs, I shared the brands that define me. I have designed my life and branded myself with that I affiliate with.
Unfortunately, society seeks good and consumes them based on heightened sensory experiences which are becoming the marketing mantra of this century. I think it goes to messages that create more activity in the brain, a few that explain well – such as the 7 deadly sins. Heightened senses create arousal from food to gambling to sex. This is why Las Vegas is America’s new playground – it has lots of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy & pride than any other place in America. New York City and many metropolitan areas continue to add more of these cultural components subconsciously. The appeal gets our hormones, adrenaline and endorphins moving, creating a chemical reaction to find instant gratification. America’s heightened sense of entertainment takes more and more to move these chemicals, yet what excited us yesterday, needs something new to keep the HIGH.
Our routines create the lifestyles and habits that hold us back from our goals and others make life look easy. At the same time, we are becoming spiritual beings, religion is going mainstream and efforts towards community will be more prevalent in the next decades. We no longer want to live in isolation and understand their is a direct correlation between the number of friends we have and our happiness. Connecting to the world around us, is combating the emptiness left of Sin Cities indulgences. Hence, the move towards self-actualization through balancing our lives with more fruitful endeavors of family, faith and community. This is another influence that needs to be balanced as we are on a swinging pendulum moving in and out of the sweet spot.
Is it really that hard to manage the hormones, endorphins and adrenaline? This is the pressing question of the Behavioral Economist of our time. The recent onslaught of books on this subject as psychology and economics start to converge. Especially as communication becomes a central theme behind the economy, not money. Hopefully, this brings some form of universal happiness and connectedness. With 3 Billion consumers coming online through mobile communications, the world comes closer to each other and we are now able to have friends globally.
I hope we learn to embrace this and global economic prosperity or world peace becomes more important than our differences. At that point we may be able to control our happiness without being in a drunken stupor.
So wake up and smell the coffee. It can be a 50 cent cup, it does not have to be a Starbucks. Yet, if you want to find me, I’ll have a Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte at the nearest cofeehouse enjoying conversation and talking about my business, CareerTours, economics, psychology, practicing Spanish or talking about taking up Bikram Yoga. Hmmm, even knowing why we make the decision, does not change the decision. It actually makes it more clear the decisions we make. The pendulum continues to swing.