What Is the Definition of a Consumer Culture?

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A consumer culture is focused on the buying and selling of goods. The goods consumed in a consumer culture are not necessarily goods that are needed so much as goods that are wanted. The United States is an example of a consumer culture.

Psychological professionals regard consumer culture as a form of conditioning. People are not automatically programmed to want more than they need. In the prosperous periods that immediately followed World War I and World War II, however, corporations had to devise a way to create a demand for their goods and services. The solution was to convince Americans that because they had disposable income to spend, they should indulge in things that made life easier or more pleasurable.

Consumer culture is based on the idea of demographics, which is targeting a large group of people with similar interests, traits or cultural attributes. Ironically, the concept of demographics can be traced back to Sigmund Freud and his idea of desire. Freud believed that if people believed they wanted something badly enough, they would attempt to acquire it at all costs. Corporations figured out that the secret to convincing people they wanted something badly enough to buy it, even if they did not need it, was to portray a product or service as something that everyone else was buying.