Materialism vs Consumerism: Difference and Comparison

Materialism and consumerism are two words that are closely related. Materialism refers to the value placed on material items. This tendency is observed in those who are infatuated with material stuff.

When more individuals become materialistic, there is a rise in the purchase of things and services, which leads to consumerism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Materialism refers to pursuing material possessions and wealth as a source of happiness and fulfillment. In contrast, consumerism refers to the culture of consumption and the emphasis on buying and owning material goods.
  2. Materialism focuses more on personal values and beliefs, while societal norms and advertising influence consumerism.
  3. Materialism can have negative consequences, such as increased stress and reduced life satisfaction, while consumerism can have negative environmental consequences, such as resource depletion and pollution.

Materialism vs Consumerism

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Materialism vs Consumerism

Materialism refers to people’s predisposition to prioritize material belongings and bodily comfort over spiritual principles. This might be simply described as an obsession with material possessions.

These material items can be anything – automobiles, electronics, clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and so on. Even one’s home can be considered a material item. 

Consumerism is the concept that expanding one’s consumption of market-purchased goods and services is frequently a positive goal to make the customers but the things.

The satisfaction of the client is intrinsically linked to the capacity to obtain consumer products. Consumption works as a good phenomenon in this context, fostering economic development by encouraging consumers to spend money on the product. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMaterialismConsumerism
DefinitionPreoccupation with materialistic possessionsIncreasing consumption of products is economically desirable.
ScalePersonal levelGlobal economical level
CostUsually expensive and individual possessionsMass consumption of cheap goods.
Financial ImplicationsSpend more on expensive productsSpend less
ChangeDifficult to changeEasy to change
Outlook on Goods and ServicesMaterialistic things are seen as proof of successPeople believe that they need more products than they actually do,

What is Materialism?

Materialism may be an individual trait, describing a person’s obsession with goods. However, materialism can lead to several social problems, such as debt and shopping addiction.

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This can lead to mental health difficulties like hoarding and low self-esteem, which may necessitate professional assistance. 

Material possessions are valued differently by different people. Materialistic people are those that have a high level of materialism.

They place a high value on material items in their lives, and they spend the majority of their time collecting and displaying them. Some have a low amount of materialism.

Non-materialistic persons are not very interested in accumulating material possessions. They may, however, acquire material items for other reasons.

For instance, home is a tangible possession for someone who sees it not only as a place to live but also as a reflection of his social standing and money.

Materialist theories, including atomism, were embraced by the natural philosophers of ancient Greece until around 400 BC when they became recognized as a philosophical school in their own right.

Natural philosophy and pre-Socratic philosophy are the earliest extant versions of materialism.

Materialism is a mindset that prioritizes material wealth and belongings over all else. The possession of a particular type or quantity of material possessions is regarded as the primary criterion for determining a person’s success in life.

What is Consumerism?

Consumerism is a philosophy that promotes people acquiring and consuming as much as possible. It encourages manufacturers to create products based on the freedom of consumers.

This also guides the government’s programs and economic strategies. It encourages clients to have a comfortable life despite the social and moral ramifications.

Consumerism is essentially an ideology and a social and economic system that favors the acquisition of greater quantities of goods and services. Increasing consumption of commodities is economically desirable, according to this view.

It refers to the inclination of people living in a capitalist economy to indulge in an excessive materialist lifestyle centered on wasteful or conspicuous overconsumption. As a result, materialism and consumerism are inextricably linked.

Consumption has risen sharply since the advent of consumerism in the last century.

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Following the industrial revolution, market goods availability rose, and department stores offered a large selection of things in a single area, sparking the habit of shopping and making it convenient and comfortable.

Many components of the capitalist economic system, such as mass production, lower prices, and assembly lines, resulted in increased product consumption.

Many economically developed countries exhibit consumerism. Some indicators of a surge in consumer spending include mass manufacture of luxury goods, increased levels of personal debt, and saturation of media with promotions for branded products.

An increase in consumer spending can lead to an increase in both production and economic growth. However, there are several negative social, economic, and environmental implications.

Consumerism is an economic approach in which a corporation manufactures and sells goods or services to customers. Companies in consumerism strive to offer items that deliver good value for the money spent by their customers.

Main Differences Between Materialism and Consumerism

  1. Materialism can be defined as a person’s preoccupation with expensive goods that can be categorized as a material possession. Whereas, consumerism is a theory that emphasizes mass consumption of any products that are labeled as economically desirable.
  2. Materialism is found mostly on a personal level and consumerism is found on a global and economic level.
  3. Materialism includes expensive possessions whereas consumerism is the consumption of mostly cheap products.
  4. In materialism, people spend more money because it includes expensive products while in consumerism, people spend less on a personal level.
  5. Materialism is a mindset that can be fairly difficult to change meanwhile consumerism can be changed over time,
  6. Materialism views products as proof of a person’s success. While, consumerism focuses on advertising products as a necessary item that a person needs even though they don’t.
Difference Between Materialism and Consumerism

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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