A couple of friends and I were talking when the subject of trucks came up.
“My car is paid for, and it runs well. I am happy with it and don’t see the necessity or practicality of trading it for something else. Besides,” I said, “I resist being a two-person/three-vehicle family.”
They mostly agreed with me. Each of us also agreed that there are some situations when it would be handy to have a pickup truck. Not all the time, mind you; but on those occasions when the backseat would get really messy or the trunk would not handle the load, well, a pickup would be just the thing.
Just a few days after our conversation I read in the news that people around the world are getting tired of having so much stuff and would gladly live without it. Havas Worldwide, one of the largest integrated marketing agencies in the world, conducted the survey titled “The New Consumer and the Sharing Economy.”
The survey was conducted online and questioned nearly 11,000 people ages 16 and older in 29 markets around the world.
The survey found 69 percent of mainstream consumers believe that overconsumption is putting our society and planet at risk.
The percentage was even greater, 77 percent, for those the survey labels “prosumers.”
“Prosumers” are defined as “people ahead of the curve in adopting products and services.” I imagine the people who bought the first iPods or hybrid cars might be in this category.
Before I looked into the survey, I wondered if it was going to claim that people are becoming less materialistic or something.
That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, I suppose, but as a student of history I am skeptical that human beings are going through such a radical change in their nature. It’s just not realistic, I thought, to believe people are somehow going to lose or outgrow the desire for things, objects and services in their lives.
After delving deeper into the survey, however, I discovered those surveyed don’t want to give up consuming products and services. What they want is to consume in a different way.
Both consumers and prosumers agree that consumer spending creates a healthy economy but believe progress for society and the economy requires consuming better rather than consuming more.
They want to be more discriminating and less wasteful when choosing products.
They want to consume only what they need and are willing to spend a little more on items that will last longer. They admire brands that help them waste less as well as companies that encourage users to recycle or resell their own products. The survey reveals that consumers no longer want to consume for its own sake.
Marian Salzman, North American CEO of Havas PR, interprets the data this way: “We are living in a less-is-more economy. Small is the new big, and we are also completely happy to recognize that if we don’t need to own something, it is completely OK to share it.”
This idea of sharing rather than owning is particularly intriguing.
According to the data, 33 percent of millennial consumers surveyed belong to a sharing service or expect to join one in the next year. Many city dwellers expect that in the future, they will share rather than own a car.
I am reminded of the newly installed bike racks situated around downtown Indianapolis. Pay a small fee. Use a bicycle as you need to.
Then drop it off when you are finished. Less is more.
I am also reminded of our conversation about pickup trucks.
Here’s an idea I might pitch to those friends of mine: A few of us go together and buy a truck to share.
One truck for three, four maybe five people. Fewer vehicles on the road for the same amount of service.
Less is more.
Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.