Conveniently Taking the Consumer Out of “Consumerism”

By: Briana Lynch

What brand of detergent do you use? How about paper towels and toilet paper? With so many choices in the aisles of grocery and retail stores, it can be hard for consumers to choose. The overwhelming number of choices may even be a deterrent for consumers to want to go into a store. Imagine a world where you can choose not to choose, right at the tip of your fingers, right in your own home. Are you running low on laundry detergent? Don’t even think about going to the store, just press a button and worry no more, your Tide laundry detergent is on its way. Better yet, imagine a world where you don’t even need to lift a finger. Your Whirlpool washing machine knows that you are running low on Tide laundry detergent, no need to think about it, it’s on its way. The same goes for your Britta water filters, your Keurig’s K-Cups, Clorox wipes, Bounty paper towels and Cottonelle toilet paper. Everything you need is delivered right to your doorstep, right when you need it. Life is never-ending convenience for the American consumer.

In the article “Will Technology Like Amazon’s Dash Button Make Us Stupid?” Paul Roberts writes about Amazon’s latest product, the Dash Button. This product conveniently allows consumers to order more of a household item literally at the push of a button. Amazon announced its new product March 31st, which caused web users to believe it was an April Fool’s joke. However, with a prime membership, Amazon members can request a branded Dash Button to try out. The lucky members who receive the buttons will be able to set it up to choose the product and quantity to be shipped when pressed. For example, one with a “Tide” brand Dash Button can choose to have two containers of Tide Pods sent to his or her house every time the button is pressed. Furthermore, Amazon has also stated that it is working with electronics companies to create appliances that can sense when an item is running low. The appliance will then automatically order more of this item from Amazon so that the consumer never runs out.

In our busy lives where we must distribute our time among work, school, family, friends, chores, meals, and the activities we choose to do in our leisure time, it can be tempting to reduce time spent on shopping. However, do we want to live in a world where our appliances make decisions for us? This product creates the issue of the decrease of the consumer’s actual involvement in the consumer decision making process. The consumer no longer will need to do internal and external research of a product. He or she will no longer need to consider the alternative options. In fact, it will hardly be necessary for consumers to even recognize a need if Amazon succeeds in creating smart appliances that replenish the stock automatically. Consumers will barely be involved in the process. The only step left is to make a purchase. This step will be endlessly repeated with little-to-no thought involved.

Another issue is that it negatively impacts competition both among brands and retailers. Consumers will rarely consider buying paper towels from Brawny after they become accustomed to pressing their Bounty button and having Bounty paper towels delivered right to their door. Business will also decline for retail stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, and several smaller players as people will have less incentive to go to the store to purchase household goods. The number one retailer will be Amazon. They will fulfill the majority of our consumer needs and will become unstoppable. With a decline in sales, retail stores will begin to shut down, workers will lose their jobs, consumers will lose their number of choices, and the market will lose its competitive aspect. This will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers and we will have nowhere else to turn to. Amazon and the large corporations it partners with will have a huge monopoly on the market for common household items. Therefore, I believe consumers need to be conscientious of how they choose to buy and of the consequences of too much convenience. Amazon’s blatant desire to become an omnipresent force in the lives of consumers ought to be a red flag for Americans. Otherwise, there may come a day when we blissfully accept our “chocolate rations” sold through and delivered by Amazon.com.

Source: http://time.com/3770127/will-technology-like-amazons-dash-button-make-us-stupid/

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16 thoughts on “Conveniently Taking the Consumer Out of “Consumerism”

  1. Amanda McKenzie April 9, 2015 / 1:49 pm

    This was a very interesting article. To me, once we start using a certain brand whether its paper towels, toilet paper or toothpaste, we never switch brands. Growing up, our parents would tend to buy one particular brand and when we get old enough to buy own own products, we tend to stick with the same brands out parents have bought. To be honest, I don’t know how i feel about this “Amazon Dash Button”. It probably would put a lot of stores out of business eventually, which would cause a lot of people to loose their jobs, but at the same time, Amazon would need to hire people to make deliveries – creating new jobs. For some, these delivery services would be a good thing, as people have busy schedules and won’t have to think about what little necessities they need to pick up after their busy days working. For others, however, i think it could make people lazy. I really don’t know how I fully feel about these delivery services, but I don’t think Amazon should be trying to change everything as we know it

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  2. Emma Tkachuk April 9, 2015 / 3:08 pm

    I definitely think this is an idea for the future, but I think this will take a lot of time before customers totally adapt to it to the point that stores would go out of business. This is more a service for the person who is on the go and so busy that they don’t have time to shop for it. Saying that I also think that it might not be as popular as amazon might think. There is always going to be that stay at home mom who wants an excuse to get out of the house for a while and thats to go to a market to go food shopping and stock up on things like detergent and paper towels. With regards to brands taking a hit by this and going out of business I don’t think that could happen because there are always going to be the people who choose Gain detergent and the people who choose Tide, I don’t think having this delivery service will change which brands people buy. I think amazon will have to work out complications with this where some things might not be delivered at all or not delivered in a timely manner. This is a good service, but I don’t think consumers will always choose this over physically going to the store.

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  3. Lindsey Mattos April 9, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    Where can I get one of these?!! As I sit here reading this, I left my house this morning having completely run out of items like detergent, dish detergent, paper towels and toilet paper. The last thing I like doing is going to the grocery store. Actually I avoid it like the plague. Having 2 children, working full time, and going to school part time, this Dash button sounds like a dream. I don’t feel not being part of the process of actually choosing what brand I want matters really when the convenience of it supersedes that. I would rather spend my time doing something fun with my children than dragging them through the store deciding what toilet paper to buy. So like I said, I am in!!

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  4. Skye Stewart April 13, 2015 / 5:07 pm

    I think that this concept is a little too technologically advanced for even our generation. Although I’m sure that the world will be there someday, I don’t think people are ready to take a huge technological leap like this. When I shop, I thoroughly enjoy looking at different products and brands and choosing what I would like to buy. This concept would be a great idea for people who are very busy and forgetful, but I am a “list” person and I make lists for just about everything. That’s just how I am and that’s how I will most likely stay. Of course this product would be attractive to plenty of people, and lots of business would very much benefit from this button. Again, only some are going to like it so the businesses and brands using this product must be careful to reaching to certain audiences.

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  5. David Collins April 14, 2015 / 11:59 am

    I appreciate the 1984 reference in the blog post, but I don’t we’d be quite there. The dash button is fantastic for the everyday item, that need to be purchased every couple weeks to a month. I’m already mindless when I go to the store to pick up toothpaste, mouthwash or paper towels, so I might has well make it more convenient. When I’m out of toothpaste, I’ve never thought “I’m going to try Colgate this week.” It’s auto-pilot right to the Crest for a new tube of the same toothpaste. Amanda is dead on by saying we typically use the same brands as we used growing up. I know what I like, or at least what I’m used to, and if I can’t get it via Dash then I’ll make the trip to the store. However, if I can, I’ll put it right next to the Staples “that was easy” button and start ordering. That’s exactly what Amazon wants, they don’t need to make money on this, they just need to keep grabbing market share.

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  6. Joe Greco April 14, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    I was so amazed by this that I almost didn’t believe it was real, seems like a big step towards the future. Lets face it, Americans are getting lazier and lazier these days and this product helps contribute to that even more. And that is why the dash button is such a good idea; not only are goods you need litterally a click away but the fact that the consumer will keep getting the same brand of the toliet paper, paper towels, etc; is a genious idea.

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  7. Yafen Liu April 15, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    I agree with Emma. As a new technology, it always takes time for consumers accepting it. At present, consumers may be tired of choosing among hundreds of products – lack of time, too many products and other considerations. In all, quality, price, value are what consumes want. What is more, the influence of parents, friends, ads and experience will also play a role when consumers are shopping. However, if consumers use this technology, they also have to make a choice first, and only the most valuable one can be delivered to them. As a result, the impact on brand would not be that huge. As for the unemployment, I do not think it will be a problem. On the contrary, I think they will be more jobs because of this technology. Since consumers will purchase products more sustainably and frequently, the delivery industry will thrive at the same time.

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  8. Cody J. Russell April 15, 2015 / 7:20 pm

    I think this is a great idea but what about markup? The cost of sending the product out will be a decent-large amount factoring in gas and all the salaries involved in the bringing in, sending out and delivery of products. So will there be a membership? It stated it is only available to people who have prime accounts but on top of that, what type of tax or delivery fee would there be? Amazon may have a product that now fixes the convenience factor of receiving other products but at what cost? Also, I think this product would be better to offer maybe to elderly or others who might “NEED” it more. One fear I have in this world is that simplicity will take over. Nowadays, I feel that there are so many machines and services that people themselves aren’t developing the proper skills and knowledge they need to survive in the world. This is similar to the gas stations with attendants. When a driver goes to a self pump gas station he won’t know at all what to do. Just a few thoughts but like all things, people should really look into what they are getting and not just get the button and start clicking.

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  9. Mattia Lanzi April 17, 2015 / 2:23 am

    In my opinion, i think this is going to be a great idea and an idea that will change our future. For sure there are strong and weak sides of this new service but i think that when people, especially lazy people, start to use it, it will become a necessary service that everyone needs. It is very easy to use it and very helpful. The weak side of it, its the cost. Is it going to be cheaper than just go to a store and buy my toilet paper? Is the shipping cost going to be very expensive? I think that to become very popular around the world, it will take a lot of times, but I’m positive that it will be a very used service from a lot of people during the next years

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  10. Patrick Saunders April 17, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    Everything about this article blew my mind. I strongly support it, but i do feel that there could be some issues in terms of shopping preferences that people have. For me personally, i would be touching all of these buttons around my house when i needed a certain item. Seeing how that is the point of it all i just think that i would rack up quite a bill. In my opinion, i would be much better off staying traditional and just going to the store when i needed anything.

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  11. Kendra Van Pelt April 27, 2015 / 12:45 pm

    If Amazon can actually get this product to catch on, I think it could have a chance. However, I think it may be pushing even our generation too much at the current moment. Throughout all the marketing presentations so far in class, I continue to see and hear hesitation regarding new and quickly advancing technology. Just like the self-drving soon to be car, I think many in my generation still enjoy doing things on our own. I think many appreciate driving, appreciate accomplishing a task on their own, without the assistance of a machine. As generations below us continue to grow up surrounded by more and more technology however, I think their generations may catch on more quickly to the Amazon Button delivery service. I’m hesitant to say whether this product would be beneficial or detrimental in the future. I think it would be great in creating more time for individuals, although how the use that time is in question. But if this product creates a whole new system and brick and motor stores are completely lost, then millions will be without a job. However, I don’t think the transition would be fast enough for that to happen. As with everything else technology related, I think there will be a gradual increase, that many don’t even notice has happened until the look back. The Amazon Button could have a future, but there are still so many unanswered questions regarding its existence, I think it will still take some time for it to become a force to reckon with.

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  12. Olivia Boudreau April 27, 2015 / 2:41 pm

    I think this is a good idea in theory but I just wouldn’t see myself ever personally using this! To me for some reason it seems more difficult than just going to the store quickly and getting everything I need at once. I could though see it maybe working in the future for people that don’t have even have the time to go to the store. Although it may be profitable for Amazon, it may do a lot of damage to other businesses (such as stores like Target, Walmart, etc).

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  13. Keelyn Crowe April 27, 2015 / 8:18 pm

    I think this is a good idea but I don’t know if it will take off right away especially in our society right now. For a lot of people going to the grocery store is a way to get out of the house and it puts the control in the consumers hands. Like liv said I think going to the store quickly would be easier in my opinion. Also this might cause problems because it’s so easy just to press a button it might make the bill very high because your not really thinking about it. This would obviously hurt big stores as well and might hurt their business as we’ll as the people working for them.

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  14. Billy Muldoon April 27, 2015 / 9:09 pm

    Like stated in the post, this will be a great feature for individuals who continuously buy the same products without ever switching it up. With the fast-pace lifestyles that Americans deal with o a daily basis, the simple task of running to the grocery store can be tough to fit into their schedule. With this new “dash” feature, these individuals will no longer have to worry about squeezing in that certain task in their day, and can just go on with their day. However, for the individuals who like to buy whats on sale, they may not like this service as much, causing Amazon to lose some of it’s target market.

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  15. Mackenzie Kilmartin April 28, 2015 / 12:29 am

    While I see the Dash Button as a very modern and innovative way for consumers to shop, I also see it as unnecessary. I, like most others I feel, enjoy taking weekly trips to CVS or any local grocery store when we’re in need of our every day items. While I am still an avid Amazon user and I shop online all the time, I see it useless to order something like laundry detergent, paper towels, or toilet paper.

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  16. Patrick Breslin April 28, 2015 / 3:31 am

    I personally don’t like this idea, although the world is generally going more technological a lot of people such as myself are against a big change like this that could potentially put retail stores out of business. Another issue I see common with this idea is the fact that peoples lives change and they need to have some control in the consumer process because of this. For example if someone’s income changes and they can not afford a certain products reorder than they can run into issues with the automatic process. Also, it stops a consumer from potentially changing to a different kind of product. I don’t think this will become a big thing anytime soon.

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