Wednesday, October 06, 2010

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Striving for the Emptiness

P1020239 American consumer culture has been the economic driver of the world since the 1950’s.  Israel has striven to “be like America”, particularly in trying to achieve a consumer culture, since shortly after it’s inception.  However, it’s only in the last 10 years as American consumer culture began collapsing in upon itself that Israel has gained some semblance of the American-like goal.

Even so, Israel’s consumer culture has neither reached the smoothness of America’s nor the crassness.  The market’s just not big enough to support 80 brands of shampoo, 50 brands of deodorant and 40 brands of feminine hygiene products.  The limited Israeli consumer market has to make do with 15 brands of shampoo, 10 brands of deodorant, and 6 brands of toilet paper. 

P1020232 There are a few areas, however, where Israel exceeds America.  With a convergence of high incomes with a very high percentage of hi-tech workers, the desire for consumer electronics is very high.  As the meeting place between West and East, Israel benefits from US targeted electronics along with importing Chinese and Japanese targeted products.  The result is a very wide selection of cell phones, GPS’s, MP3 players and the like with a demand for the latest and greatest gadget available (who’s initial design or technology may have come from the technicians buying it!)

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While in America we are assured that a flavored drink “is the real thing” or is necessary “for a smile”, that happiness and life itself is the selection of the right brands and investing ourselves in it’s use, in Israel each of the young people pictured is an army veteran and has been frisked on entering their workplace to protect against terrorist attacks.  The consumer culture must present products that will “change the world”, “change your life”, and “bring peace”.

Generations of marketing culture in America have drained meaning from life and invested family occasions and memories in the products and TV shows presented.  In Israel it’s harder to escape.  This mini-conference (that I accidentally ran across on exiting a work site)  was for “the iPhone 4…changing the way the world works, again”.

In Israel it’s harder to hide away life, which in America has become a way of life.  Not when the man standing next to you may be risking his to protect yours tomorrow, just a few miles down the road.

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(Photos from iPhoneWorld 2010, October 2010, Kfar Saba, Israel.)

1 comments:

josh said...

In Israel, it's not for real and the media is not succeeding in making us a consumer society.

I work at a company near that iphone show yesterday and today. Story: We had a couple of guys come from AT&T and talk to us about the telcom business, current and near future, as well as the products and gadgets that 'everyone' is using, and thought they would be able to get a discussion going with the audience of two hundred or so high-tech Israelis and they just got blank stares. Sure there are a few tech nerds who like these things, but most Israelis are not into it. These products like iphone and ipad, and other smartphones cost a lot of money here. Globes showed that iphone is most expensive in Israel of all western countries. We get subsidized cellphones for work, and while only management can get blackberrys, everyone else ordered the cheapest Nokias. I do admit that people are buying large screen LCD tvs. They really are so much cheaper that 'regular' TVs were only 5 years ago.

Facebook is also quite successful here, twitter crashed and burned.

Cars: overseas, people are infatuated by 'their' car, here most people do not care that much. For the tens of thousands who get leased cars, there is nothing really exceptional about driving the same Mazda3, Focus, or Hyundai Accent that everyone else has, so few people are accessoring or flaunting that either.

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