Technology and Buying Patterns

Note: this post is from Mar ’07. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation.

I was reading through some fascinating research the other day. The conclusion is a little long and I’ll do my best to break it down (so that I can understand it more than anything else).

The conclusion goes like this: “Populations will shift their browsing/buying patterns (patterns of social interaction) based on technological changes that make their lives easier if they move to a new social strata where the technological innovations are more unilaterally applied.”

What does that mean?

First up, we’re dealing with a population undergoing change. “Populations will shift…” and “…if they move…”.

These changes are first psychological (“…a new social strata…”) and may be due to positive changes in their financial situation. The changes will probably generate a positive change in their environment (they’ll move to a different neighborhood, probably one more reflective of their positive change in finances).

The cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational driver for the changes will be greater access to some technology that makes their lives easier. Examples of this would be living closer to a highway for a commuter, moving to a neighborhood which has faster internet access, things like that. A demonstration of this technology (and evidence to the population on the move that they’re moving to the “right” place) will be that everyone in this new place has equal access to the technology.

Evidence of this psychological move will be changes in what they buy and how they buy it.

Well…uh…hmm…On a first read and after a little decoding, this is obvious. “People whose financial situation changes will change their buying patterns and what they buy.”

But that’s not what this research concludes. The financial change isn’t the impetus nor is it the end result. The conclusion of this research is

  1. people will change their financial situation
  2. in order to have access to certain technologies
  3. that make their lives easier

Companies wanting to incentivise their employees should give them access to neat “toys” (HDTV, up-scale cars, better hotel accommodations while traveling, send them to high-end shows and conferences are examples). Increasing their pay won’t due it. Give them a taste of the good life on the job and they’ll want it at home, and that will incentivise them to work harder to get it.

That’s what I think of as a beneficial use of this research. It also indicates something else; people will put themselves in greater and greater debt in order to have access to things they believe will make their lives easier. The above bullet points start with “people will change their financial situation” and there is no guarantee that change will be positive, only that it will change.

That’s a little different, don’t you think?


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