Materialism involves the importance one attaches to their worldly possessions. For a materialist, possessions are central to his or her life in that he or she feels that increased “consumption” increases his or her satisfaction with life. Materialism may become a problem in situations where the physical goal of consumption overshadows all other goals of self and development. This does not imply that all material desires are bad. In fact, the acquisition of material possessions may begin to interfere with other important aspects of life. At that point, materialism is likely to become harmful to the person or to society. What is the relationship of materialism to individuals’ ethical beliefs? Do consumers who are more materialistic have different ethical standards than those who are not? On one hand materialism may increase a society’s economic wealth and material possessions. On the other hand, there are those who would argue that materialism has a negative overall effect on the quality of life. Possessions can be the focus of one’s life, becoming more important than religion, friends, and achievements. In making possessions the majority component for achieving happiness, the more materialistic person might be willing to bend ethical rules to gain possessions.
What is it that makes us want something so badly? Certainly many marketers have an interest in perpetuating materialism, and as the issue of marketing’s social responsibility grow in significance, the topic of materialism surfaces. While many marketing efforts encourage materialism, the materialism that is encouraged may have negative societal effects. Materialism is associated with a greater drive to acquire the goods that marketers provide for consumers. If consumers move away from their focus on material acquisitions and towards non-material quality of life concerns, then they will consume less, leaving the marketers with fewer consumers and less demand for their goods. Though this may be an enormous.