Consumerism is a global phenomenon currently. It started in the west first, as European countries became some of the first nations to become developed countries. This was followed by the United States, and then Asia together with Eastern Europe in the recent decades.
Consumerism is the purchase of goods and services in ever greater amounts.
In the nineteenth century, few companies were providing massive supply of consumer goods for purchase. Even P&G started off with mainly soap and candles then, before flourishing in the 20th century. Workers and employees had to work long hours and many days of the week, causing lack of time for ‘shopping’ or indulgence in consumerism. Wages were low, so demand for consumer goods were low too. Apparently, goods made then were of durable standards, so they could be used for a long time before the need for replacements. And yes, durable goods were used till they were spoilt, unlike today’s consumers that prefer to change them after a short 2-3 years for the sake of newer technologies.
Henry Ford also contributed to consumerism with his concept of mass production at the beginning of the 20th century. He innovated on the mass production of automobiles, which were translated into many other industries as well. This mass production allows large quantities of products to be produced at low costs.
Today, consumerism is a symbol of prosperity and wealth. It is a symbol of status and comfort. It is a norm today to spend freely and waste wantonly, and to indulge in things that money can buy.