Can Advertising Change ‘Fauxsumerism?’

By Shawn Paul Wood 

Window shopping

One thing posting on AgencySpy has taught us: marketers and creatives love a robust conversation.

On that note, we’d like to bring your attention to an alarming trend that doesn’t seem to show signs of fading away anytime soon: “Fauxsumerism.”


Essentially, those super-valuable Millennials would rather spend countless hours browsing online than ever actually buying anything. Numerous surveys and thought leadership gatherings have been dedicated to turning these perpetual browsers into buyers–but is it really possible?

This has, of course, been classified as “the latest Millennial trend”. Now, the marketing community at large is delving deeper to figure out why those seeking the latest “all about me” product tend to end up buying nothing.

A few weeks ago, The Intelligence Group (IG) released a study on said mysterious trend in its Winter/Spring 2014 Cassandra Report (entitled “consumed”). Here are some highlights:

  • 1/3 of respondents said that browsing is more fun than actually buying
  • 1/2 said they regularly browse for items they have no intention of buying
  • 72% research online before making an in-store purchase
  • 44% think about the resale value of items they buy when making a big purchase
  • When they do buy, 36% only make purchases that are “really necessary”
  • 35% said that they’d rather pay full price to access an item only when they need it rather than actually owning it

One statement in the study read that “Fauxsumerism is Window Shopping 2.0: They are looking for entertainment.” Many of us may have groaned at the “2.0” reference, but that line is both discouraging and completely correct.

E-Commerce is cheap entertainment.

It’s possible that our forebears were right to proclaim that money doesn’t buy happiness and that aspirational shopping can be just as rewarding as the real thing. Unfortunately, this trend runs counter to the vast majority of our clients’ demands.

The question: is this topic being discussed in the agency setting? And how?