Can minimalism be marketed?

Give the public the ‘image’ of what it thinks it ought to be, or what television commercials or glossy magazine ads have convinced us we ought to be, and we will buy more of the product, become closer to the image, and further from reality.

~Madeline L’Engle, “A Circle of Quiet”

According to Becoming Minimalist: “Despite its growth, minimalism is always going to be a subculture. Society, consumerism, and advertisements have so fed the natural selfish tendencies of humanity‚Ķ minimalism will never go mainstream. …minimalism, by its very definition, can not be marketed to a world built on consumerism.”

I beg to differ. Not only can minimalism be marketed, it is already being marketed. IKEA, the Container Store, pretty much any product featured on this blog.

People are always looking for quick fixes. They want to wave their magic wand and miraculously have things the way they want them to be. If minimalism goes more mainstream, you can bet your ass that companies will be jumping on board to sell it to us.

How will they do it? By implying you’re not minimalist unless you have a brand-new, minimalistic [insert random piece of furniture here]. Or that you’re not minimalist until you have a brand new bookcase with doors that swing shut so you don’t have to look at your book clutter. Or until you own some brand new thing that results in you throwing out something already own…like this. (Shall I point out the fact that I find a blog called “Environminimal” that drools over brand-new products a little absurd?)

Sure, high minimalist decor is nice. But it’s also a way for minimalism to be marketable. And it will be marketed, trust me. Companies have found a way to market even love and friendship (supposedly). Minimalism isn’t even a speedbump to them. Look at Apple. I would never call one of their products minimalist. It looks minimalist, with its sleek lines and uncluttered interface. But replacing my OS every three years is not minimalist. Nor is replacing my entire setup just to get that new OS. Sorry, Leo, but I wholeheartedly disagree.

Yes, I believe that true minimalism is something you do, and not something you buy. Unfortunately, integrity often gets thrown out the window when consumerism gets it’s nasty little teeth into something. Minimalism can, has, is, and will be marketed. Period.

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4 Responses to “Can minimalism be marketed?”

  1. But is it still minimalism?

  2. That is not minimalism or a minimalist lifestyle. It is advertising, marketing, consumerism. A person who is on the journey towards a more minimalist , simple living lifestyle will see through the “minimalism marketing hype” for what it is: Bullshit.
    Mark

    http://minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com

    • You are correct in that it isn’t minimalist. However, it will be marketed as such. I suppose I could have made that clearer.

  3. Craig Says:

    I think it would be difficult to call what you are describing minimalism, since it’s just marketing using minimalism (or similar ideas) as a message to sell stuff. Even if the public embraces the message that the marketers are pushing, it’s still not minimalism if they embrace it by buying stuff, since that isn’t actually minimalism. You can market minimalism, but that is different from it actually becoming embedded in peoples way of doing things.

    While it’s not easy to provide a single solid definition of what ‘minimalism’ is, I think it would be fair to say that it largely means avoiding typical current (primarily 1st world) consumer habits, so I imagine that if the marketing of minimalism to sell stuff actually caused people to accept the idea and start to buy less, they would stop pushing the idea pretty quickly.

    The quote from Becoming Minimalist assumes that the current societal ‘norm’ and way of doing things continues as it is, that consumerism continues to not be considered undesirable by the general population, and it’s hard to say whether that will be the case 10, 20, 30 years from now when you take possible major issues into account, such as the potential for oil to become prohibitively expensive. People are already starting to become more aware of, and concerned with, the impact that a non-minimalist way of life impact the planet, and ultimately the lives of people who have to live on it. For many it’s easier to continues as they have, but there is a small and, I think, growing number that *are* changing their habits. Maybe one day they will be a significant part of the population.

    Wow. That waffled on a bit. To close, I don’t think that we are going to end up with societies that favour minimalism as a goal without some kind of serious shake up that causes people within those societies to be so strongly impacted that they really do change their outlook on things. The stories you hear about people who lived through the great depression scrimping, saving and hoarding for the rest of their lives is probably a good example of something like this.

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