One of the reasons today’s consumer retail markets are so popular is because they have an unlimited amount of choices for shoppers. Shopping online has never been so easy! Simply find what you want, add it to your cart, checkout, and next thing you know, your purchase is at your front door.
As consumers, the more we buy, the more our expectations and desires rise in tandem. The gain in happiness and pleasure is fleeting, relative, but not absolute. It’s part of human nature.
While being a part of human nature, there is a time when we must be responsible for our consumption. There are times we should stand back and question our shopping habits. When our wants outweigh our needs, there is an obligation to stop and truly understand the purchases we make. Of course you can indulge in products from time to time but making educated and informed consumer decisions, and questioning the origin and source of the products we consume is essential in conscious consumerism.
Difference between online shopping vs brick and mortar:
Physical product examination
- Conscious consumerism differs when shopping in a physical store compared to shopping online because when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you have the product in front of you which will include all the information you need on either the packaging and/or the product itself. You can decide through visual inspection if the product would meet your requirements rather than having to wait till it arrives to be able to decide. Online shopping often does not allow for thorough inspection sometimes needed to make a conscious consumer decision.
Lack of transparency online
- The level of transparency differs from brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Online, there is no requirement for sellers to disclose a product’s country of origin which some consumers may find a vital piece of information needed in making their purchasing decision. It isn’t until after the item is purchased that the consumer is able to physically inspect the item and learn about the product’s country of origin.
False product information
- Many marketing and photography tactics go into displaying product images online. Marketers try to display their products in the best way possible which may not always portray what is received when purchased. Online shopping may cause a false expectation of a product’s identity compared to shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Also, online retailers may exclude some information as to mislead potential buyers.When doing physical shopping, you are able to see the product exactly how it is with all of the correct information displayed.
What can you as a consumer do?
There are a number of things as a consumer you can actively do to counteract the negative effects of shopping online. Act on the following steps to become a more responsible consumer:
Ask yourself where is it coming from and where is it going?
Sustainability, carbon footprint, and environmental impact are all important considerations we need to identify before we make purchases. If any information is unavailable to you or is unclear, contact the seller and request all product origin information. When origin information isn’t included in product descriptions, let retailers and sellers know. In 2020, a labeling law named C.O.O.L was introduced and it requires retailers to inform their customers of this information.
Make conscious consumerism a trending topic
Use social media platforms to share and discuss the issue. Follow and share: forums, sign petitions and join groups who are actively fighting against false information with online purchasing.
Purchase from legitimate online stores and marketplaces
Take some time to do a little research before purchasing from any old website. Deciding to purchase from one legitimate website as opposed to one who isn’t is conscious consumerism done right.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
As e-commerce is steadily becoming the more attractive shopping method, this cycle of shoppers purchasing without the full knowledge of how and where a product is made is becoming a global issue. The amount of online shoppers has grown tremendously since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic and if we want to make conscious consuming a trending topic, big changes need to be made, and fast. The reality is that most of us will now assume a product is made in China which is a huge loss to the makers and manufacturers who produce authentic products and are being judged on the same level. It’s the local producers who create these authentic products and keep local manufacturing traditions alive that rely on your conscious consumerism most.