Have you ever moved out and think ‘Oh my god! How could I accumulate so much stuff?’ We bet some people will have found themselves in the situation and in any case, we want you to ask yourself: do you really need all the stuff you have got?
In our case we realized we have got too many stuff:
- Our closets are full of clothes we rarely use
- We have got 15 pairs of shoes because you know… every situation requires different shoes
- A petanque game not being used for the first time (just because it was going to be fun!)
- Rollerblades from the time we thought rollerblading was our sport but the first time we went on, we already discovered it wasn’t made for us
- An extra set of pans because they were on sales at the shopping center and we couldn’t resists the influence power of scarcity. Sales were going to be over in a week! It was our last chance to by a new set of pans on sales for… wait a minute… a month?
- A computer with the latest technology: the best processor, the largest memory, the best graphics card… Yes! We need the best graphics card to use Microsoft Word, Facebook and google the recipe for the dinner we are cooking. (and next month there will be a better computer anyways…)
You may have identified yourself on this list as some of our friends inspired us and in our case, the conclusion is: ‘No, we don’t need all the stuff we have got’ It is something: awareness and acceptance are the first steps to change. (oh man… it’s not easy).
There are several influence tools Marketing uses to help us buying and consuming stuff we may not even want. There are several books which talk about it and we completely recommend the book Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. There are several persuasion techniques explained on the book such as scarcity: we as human beings are afraid of loss. When possible, we would try to keep all the doors open. Because of this, when running into a product with a deadline which says ‘This is your last chance to buy’ or something similar we will find ourselves considering to buy the only today reduced priced jacket we don’t really need.
Besides scarcity, there are other persuasion techniques which are continuously used on us:
- Reciprocity: we don’t like having debts and we would be more prone to buy from someone who is giving you something for free
- Commitment: we need to be consistent and several times we will find ourselves defending an opinion or position just for the sake of being consistent with what we said before, even though we realized we may be wrong.
- Social proof: how many times have you decided on something based on what people surrounding you were doing? We have observed some working late cultures in some companies based on this. People do not actually need to stay, but they see everyone is still working so they pretend to still have something to do and end up going out from work later than the official working hours.
- Authority: we always trust better someone with a figure of authority even though they are also human and like us, they can be wrong.
- Liking: we take into account the opinion and recommendations of people we like. That is the principle upon word of mouth is based.
How did this post go from talking about our stuff to persuasion techniques? Even though this was a short and shallow commentary on persuasion techniques, it is an invitation to reflect on them and start analyzing your purchasing decisions from a more rational perspective.
If we accept and agree that we don’t need so much stuff, we should change our behaviour and we concluded that a first step towards changing it is trying to reduce our consumption. In order to reduce it we are going to try to understand our purchasing decisions and specially, ask honestly to ourselves:
- Do we really need this?
- Are we going to use it?
- Can we think about other alternatives such as renting, sharing platforms or even borrowing from a friend?
And when doubting on a purchase we will prevent ourselves from purchasing it at that right moment and wait for a couple of days to reflect on it. If after this couple of days we decide we really need that stuff, then we will go for it. Hopefully, the next time we move out or decide to change the furniture or to throw away the things we don’t need we will find ourselves free of stuff because we have really won the fight: we are the owners of our stuff and not the other way around.
Finally, if this post was not inspiring enough to reflect on your stuff or your purchasing decisions or if you want to go extreme and experiment with your stuff from a completely new perspective, you can check the finish film which inspired this post. The protagonist of the film takes all his stuff into storage, being able to bring back only one item per day in order to discover what truly matters to him.
Less can be more!