Self-pleasure for Christmas

In my recent poll, 68% of you "lounged like Mary with family and friends" on Black Friday. Mary, the one blamed by her sister Martha for lazily sitting at Jesus' feet for story time, may have gotten it right. But that doesn't make the 4% of you who "toiled like Martha for family and friends" feel any better. (Sons of Martha might, however.)

Tied for second were the categories "Other" and "took advantage of the shopping deals."

Speaking of taking advantage of shopping deals, I came across an article at AdAge this morning about new holiday ads focused on me. The National Retail Federation

"recently highlighted J.Crew, which featured a 'Gift Yourself' section on its website, along with the text 'To: You, From: You.' And this week Gap is promoting sleepwear as the perfect gift to give yourself: 'Tuck Yourself In: Dots, pops of color, and soft flannel -- perfectly sized sleepwear just for you. Give (yourself!) the gift of good sleep.'"  
Photo by leapetey
I hadn't seen these ads, but certainly felt more desire to shop for myself this year. Maybe I picked up the vibe subconsciously. I went out at midnight on Black Friday to buy something for my wife. The 1000-strong lines sent me home empty-handed, but I had every intention of making the purchase and then proceeding to fondle numerous additional items I could imagine having as my own.

John Ross, CEO of Shopper Sciences, said, "It looks like retailers across the board widened the draw of their promotional assortment to appeal to a broader audience." (Broader sounds so inclusive, but the only audience added to what used to be a focus on you, is me. So broad, isn't it?) "To the extent that retailers can change their ads, we'd be advising them to do it," he said. "It appears to be something that the shopper is already embracing."

Of course we're embracing it.

What I didn't realize, but what would have been something to celebrate had I known about it, is that "Shoppers have actively tried to be less impulsive and haven't been spending on themselves for some time."

In Mr. Ross's world, this less impulsive bit isn't a point of celebration. It's a problem. It isn't a sign of stewardship or self-control, but a weakness in the system. His aim is to push retailers toward adopting a self-pleasure strategy because it's good for business. Buying for self isn't inherently bad, especially when the price is right, but to employ a self-pleasure strategy in the season most known for charity and altruism can't be good for humanity.


Sheila December 10, 2011 at 10:14 AM  

I'm not by nature acquisitive, so I was stunned, a few weeks ago, to find myself coveting a new set of pots and pans.

I had it bad: I'd pull up the item on the store's website and gaze at the photo.

It was like some Consumerist demon had possessed me. And I couldn't figure out why I wanted that cookware so much.

I finally unraveled a complex set of reasons. I felt better once I understood.

But I bought them, too.

Sam Van Eman December 10, 2011 at 10:36 AM  

"I felt better once I understood. But I bought them, too."

Yep. You've got it bad.

Sheila December 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM  

:) Sam.

Actually, once I figured it out, I saw them as a solid investment in my mental and emotional health.

I'm just glad it wasn't my truck that I'd associated so much ugliness with.

Melissa Miller,  December 10, 2011 at 12:06 PM  

My daughter was living out this very idea as we bought small gifts for her classmates for their gift exchange this upcoming week. 7 kids in her class including her, so we should only need to purchase 6 items, right? Not according to Moira. She promptly picked out 7 items because, as she put it, "I need one too". Sadly, I was a bit stunned by her statement in the middle of the store and while I tried to quickly remind her this is the time to give to OTHERS, I still gave in and bought 7.

I'm regretting that decision and I'm trying to figure out how to have another lesson in giving BEFORE we take 7 gifts to school on Tuesday.

Now Moira is 4 years old, and I think most of her wanting a gift is just from being 4 and not fully understanding the joy of giving. But when I think of times I've done the same thing (buying for myself)...or the ads you mentioned encouraging the same behavior, I wonder how "mature" I really am. Not much different than my 4 year old. I guess the idea of looking out for yourself is a tough thing to "overcome" and those advertising companies know it!

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