The Glamour Globals
An upcoming book authored by Saudi nationals offer an unusual marketing perspective into the merits of taming materialistic impulses in the Middle East with the goal of using wealth to help build brands and products that stand the test of time instead of irrational conspicuous consumerism.
September 23, 2012 3:55 by kippreport
The following article is from the book in development, Glamour Globals: Said Aghil Baaghil, Marriam Mossalli, Rola Ashour and Yasmine Khashogji.
The nouveau riche. The petit bourgeouisie. The well-to. The affluent. The conspicuous consumers. The people whom we might call the “Glamour Globals.” History, literature, and sociology unfortunately repeat the all-too-often objectionable tale of people who suddenly come into money, and seem to have no better purpose for that money than to flaunt it, requiring ever more money so that they may be show-offs and of course they long to acquire ever more—more money, more goods—and seemingly with no higher purpose than to display that they have these things. Money, for such people, is power and status, not to do something positive with, but to have, end of story.
The occasion of people who were once poor coming into wealth we might consider a happy subject, fit for a fairy tale, and it is undoubtedly a good economic result for policymakers, but the story as it unfolds in real life seldom seems to play out as it would if a Hollywood writer were scripting it. However, upon inquiring more deeply, we might remember the wise warnings concerning sudden wealth contained in many ancient stories—King Midas and the prodigal son. We find that the sometimes deadly threats of being newly rich are as old as humanity itself.
It’s not as though Old Money has ever behaved terribly well—but perhaps our disappointment in New Money consumers is all the sharper because we harbor such high hopes for poor people who have come newly to wealth. Perhaps, we think, having seen the mistakes of past generations, this generation now coming into wealth will be the ones to get it right.
The tale of conspicuous consumption—which refers to using buying decisions as a form of displaying one’s social status—and of its close cousin “invidious consumption”—which is displaying one’s wealth through material possessions with the specific intention of invoking envy in others—is inevitably replaying itself again around the globe, as the globalized economy takes root in new regions and among people of all kinds who are experiencing modern wealth for the first time in their people’s history.
Occurring over the last several decades, starting first with the influx of natural wealth into once-impoverished nations in Asia and elsewhere, followed by the wealth now being brought to developing nations by virtue of the global economy, the rise of new wealth in the developing world has played out alongside the rise and then the sudden collapse of the worldwide struggle between capitalism and communism. This unhappy collision of (unequally) rising wealth and universally collapsing and shifting political, Economical and social structures has made today’s version of the nouveau riche, the glamour globals, perhaps more irritating for marketers, sociologists and policymakers than any former manifestations of the newly rich. They are irrational consumers, consuming and choosing brands and products in a way that is not helpful to entrepreneurship and long-term prosperity in their home nations.
It might seem strange that a work written from a marketing perspective would be interested in taming anyone’s materialistic impulses, especially those of the people we generally serve, in the Middle East, the BRIC countries, and in Asia. The fact is, however, that it’s in all of our best interests in developing economies if we use our wealth to build, and grow, and to actually make something, and not to simply flush it all down the drain of superficial materialism. We are interested in helping business owners and other glamour globals become not just people who buy pretty suits and drive the right cars, blindly pursuing prestige, but who build brands and products that stand the test of time, taking their rightful place in the economy and reaping the rewards that naturally come with bringing value.
From a marketing perspective, glamour globals are loyal to trends rather than to brands. That is, their primary concern is heavily centered on status and not on companies or products. They tend to follow only brands that already have a sizable following and to drop those brands once opinion leaders have moved on. These consumers are unconscious spenders, with few concerns other than developing social status and indulging other selfish needs.
It is for this reason that we hope to devote a good deal of our time and energy in the near future into investigating ways that these glamour globals can come to a more mature way of thinking about consuming—about dealing with money, goods, and business. This, I believe, must be a process that starts with values. I am a strong believer that our lives, our economies, and our cultures will all be better served—and more prosperous for all—if strong, thoughtful values become a vital part of our consumption discussions and decisions. We also believe that values are nurtured most profitably at the hearth—that is, in the family. The most important consideration in addressing the problem of new global wealth, as in everything else, is what we teach our children, and especially the behavior we model for them. In short, the best way to cleanse the consumer culture of the glamour globals, and its j wastefulness, is to start thinking about how we might begin to live better lives as consumers, even given the blessed misfortune of having suddenly become immensely wealthy.