In Mexico City I saw a few things that could easily have been part of the in crowd in New York City, Los Angeles, or any other American City. They were a tad disturbing, since they show the level of penetration of this consumer culture we live in. It shows the depth of “need” for new products.
The first was the need to have the latest gadgets, whether people could afford them or not. I understand that this is a status symbol, and economic power to consume. It was striking since I tend to use my electronics until they utterly fail. Yet, this is not something the in crowd could understand, and having a six year old I-Pod Touch (that still works but hardly runs the latest apps) was something they could not conceive off. In many ways, having anything older than a year was not cool. Hey, at least my IPad was cool, since I recently replaced it after my first one failed. I guess the same goes for my computer. When I told these kids that it replaced a nine year old machine that simply refused to turn on one day was shocking to them.
The second, and this speaks to globalization and specifically to the damage done by NAFTA, were the commercials in English. Mexico has a national language and English is not it. Yet, the adds for Converse Shoes were in English, for example. This raises a language barrier to those who at times can hardly read Spanish, let alone English. The adds spoke to how cool these shoes are. Given the history of the brand that was funny as hell, but the adds works. The In crew loves Converse, and all things American. It is a love hate relationship, but mostly love.
Then there is the ever constant presence of Walmart. You think they are a monopoly here in the good Ol’ US of A? Oh you just wait. They have bought so many of the local chains that you can avoid them, but it’s not easy.
Of course you can hardly escape the presence of Home Depot, Best Buy and Bed, Bad and Beyond. Did I mention Kryspie Creme and Cosco? I had pesos in my pocket, but it might as well have been dollars. This is the depth of globalization, where it is not just American Cities that look the same, but major capital cities abroad.
All this is purely based on a very sample, but it is an interesting one. Kids are growing up thinking that consumption is the way of life. They also believe that specific brands are the way in. Barnays wins, but also globalization. It is one flat world, and the question for all of us is how to break that toxic cycle?