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NFL and marketing - crunchiness and consumerism?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I don't enjoy shopping too much, and spending a lot of money makes me feel anxious. Big box stores and malls make me twitch. That is one of the reasons I was initially so drawn to the Mothering mag, MDC/NFL when I was pregnant. I had walked into a Babies R Us, got completely overwhelmed and promptly walked out. I was happy to learn of other creative ways to raise a family without buying too much stuff.

 

However, I did begin to notice something interesting. The kind of high-status "crunchy" items in the Mothering mag ads and that were touted here in many places ignited a different kind of shopper in me. No, I still didn't want to go to Target and spend tons of money, but oh my goodness how I wanted the learning tower, the stockmar products, the oh-so-expensive cute diaper covers, more wraps than a person needs, the expensive playsilks, etc etc.

 

I realize it's a different kind of consumption because in many cases buying these items supports a small business.

 

I didn't actually buy most of these things - I bought basic diapers and only two baby carriers. But my longing for these items made me feel like I fell into a different marketing trap when it came to my parenting. I was curious if anyone else experienced this and what your thoughts are on it?

 

I"m not just talking about MDC here, because I know the crafts forum and F & F are great resources. I just mean in general, even out in my community. For example, chances are if you go to the Waldorf school in this town you are in a higher income bracket.

post #2 of 17
Yes, there is a certain store in our area that ALL my friends frequent. It's all natural, eco-friendly, AP-supportive products, but SHEESH they are expensive!!!!!!! There are also certain food products that everyone in my mom's group buys and yes, nearly all of them have the learning tower!!!

We don't really get into that, I'm pretty 'dumb' when it comes to brands, we are super frugal (both out of desire & necessity!), etc. But the first time I borrowed my friend's Ergo, I was in love, and sure enough it was the ONLY thing I wanted when someone offered to buy my a gift!! (I did choose the one on clearance, even though I would have loved organic cotton & pretty patterns!!) The other thing I think DS would benefit a lot from is the learning tower, but we've been getting by just fine with a dining room chair... but he sure loves his friends' tower.

So yeah, I totally see what you see. It's funny, because I feel like we save so much money by living naturally, but there are always these crazy-expensive things that draw me in, especially because they tend to be visually appealing as well as functional AND green! I would imagine it would be much harder to resist if we were financially well-off!!
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoopin' Mama View Post

 

I didn't actually buy most of these things - I bought basic diapers and only two baby carriers. But my longing for these items made me feel like I fell into a different marketing trap when it came to my parenting. I was curious if anyone else experienced this and what your thoughts are on it?

 

I"m not just talking about MDC here, because I know the crafts forum and F & F are great resources. I just mean in general, even out in my community. For example, chances are if you go to the Waldorf school in this town you are in a higher income bracket.

Oh sure, I think most of us have felt that way.  I don't know if it's really a trap, per se, it's just that in general we like to buy things, we want the novelty of new things, and if we can feel like it's something we can really use, that will enrich our lives while providing an income for others, it's not as hard to feel bad about it.  I suppose it is a trap like all consumerism/addiction-to-novelty can be a trap.  And even though I spend and waste more money than I'm sure you do, I can find myself enjoying stores and catalogues and websites without really needing to buy, as it sounds like you can also.  Because the actual spending of money and acquiring of goods can cause stress, and the ownership of them doesn't necessarily provide any kind of actual enjoyment.  When my kids see the catalogues and ask for stuff, I tell them to go through and circle everything they want.  We don't ever buy anything, or if we do, it's because it's near Christmas time and the relatives ask for gift ideas. :)

 

I started cloth diapering in 1999 and before that, I never understood why it was addictive.  Then I started reading and buying and I got really hooked and excited.  A friend on a message board would review diapers and I remember her saying, "If I could only use one type of cloth diapers, this would be it."   So I bought those kind.  But later on, she was talking about a new kind of diaper, and I realized she was buying every new kind that came out, and I thought to heck with it, I do want to find the one kind of diaper that works for us.  So I sort of lost interest in the CDing message boards when it was nothing about the latest diaper.  And then even though I found slings with beautiful fabrics that looked nice, I loved the slings I had and was using them, and just could not justify buying another expensive item.  

 

I guess it's like eating, it all looks so good, but eventually you're full and it stops looking enticing.  But I like to keep the cookbooks around and look at all the pictures of meals I'll never make.  

 

post #4 of 17

 l love your analogy with cooking ...

am at a point where I would like to declutter cookbooks, DH is not on board with that (nor the children and him on board with decluttering the toys ....)

we all have different speeds for feeling full !

post #5 of 17

I understand exactly what you are describing and I do think it's consumerism, but perhaps with a conscience.  You are buying from small companies and individuals, which is great, but at the same time, you are not doing right by your family by having too much.  Finding a balance is key.  For me, it helps that I hate ANY kind of shopping, so this doesn't happen to me often.  I do enjoy taking the time to research for a good product, though.  It took us 3 years before we found the platform bed and bedroom suite we wanted (and it's a purchase for a lifetime).  The idea of spending that kind of money made me really think a lot and make a cerebral decision in addition to an emotional one.  It's a green resource, crafted by a small company in Denmark, so buying it felt good because it aligned with our NFL philosophy, but it was also not locally made, which goes against that philosophy.  It was a tough dilemma... just like wanting to buy LOTS of cute diaper covers from a single sewing momma might be.  Great for her, bad for you.  Find your balance and I'm sure it will all work out in the end.  Good luck!

post #6 of 17

I see this and get this.

 

And I agree it's about balance.

 

Also, Viola, love your food analogy. :)

I have a longing to buy something made of hemp...a purse, a backpack, a skirt? lol.gif

 

The AP/NFL group is a market base, but it's a fairly diverse market base. Some people will like the shiny new AP/NFL products and others will do without or buy used AP/NFL or mainstream items at the Goodwill or use free cycle depending on their personal preferences and philosophy. 

 

Oh, and the status thing is still there.

 

In some circles a big, whopping engagement ring or a BMW is a status symbol. In other circles it's how many diapers and what kind you have or how you educate your children. Same status game, just different markers for who is higher status. I think that is just human nature.

 

 

 

 

post #7 of 17
I think for a lot of people, if they spend money on high-end stuff for themselves, they feel guilty. If they splurge on their kids, it's generous / giving them the best / making a sacrifice for them / they'll only be little once, etc. It's a feel-good spend, not a guilty I'm-selfish spend.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with a lot of it and love the food anaology. And the status thing - you are right that status symbols happen probably in all circles.

As someone who was never interested much in catalogs, shopping, etc. the new advertising I exposed myself to just gave me the warm fuzzies and all of a sudden I loved learning about all these new products and stalking the Trading Post. And then when I started knitting -- oh man.

 

This all crossed my mind again yesterday when a thread made me think of our small set of Stokmar paints - which are largely untouched because it's so much work to get them to be used properly and DS truly doesn't care. I remember when the nursery school teacher (ex-Waldorf teacher) offered them to me for a deal and I was SO excited.

 

I think the aesthetics of natural toys really appealed to me too. However, in the end Ds didn't show a preference. I still shop carefully and try to set limits but this past Christmas was the first year the majority of his toys came from Target and not the local toy store. The kid wants Lego heroes and Bakugans.

 

I still believe in buying quality over quantity and certainly don't argue with that.  

 

The first time I found out a diaper cover could cost $80 I was floored bigeyes.gif

 

I should add that my intention to criticize people who buy those products, but just talk about marketing and/or social factors and how it affects us.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoopin' Mama View Post

The first time I found out a diaper cover could cost $80 I was floored bigeyes.gif


WHAT??!! jaw.gif
post #10 of 17
What's weird about the crunchy advertising for me is that the crunchier I become, the less money I spend. I don't need special products to help me make greener and gentler choices.
post #11 of 17

Consumerism and "Keeping Up With The Jones" really knows no parenting style.  You can be super crunch and want everything to be organic and local and whatever, and still spend "$1500 on a ring sling and $80 on a diaper and hundreds on carseats and shopping cart covers and so on and so on.  And you can be super soggy, McDonalds feeding, CIO, and spanking your kids and still spend $0 on a crib and $0 on a carseat and $0 on a playpen etc etc.  Frugality is not a requirement of "crunchy" and wasting money is not a requriement of being "mainstream."

 

I am not AP at all, but I BF because it's free.  I still have my 9 month old in our bedroom because I didn't want to spend the money on a monitor. I am cheap, not crunchy:D

post #12 of 17
I used to love the Waldorf aesthetic. Well, I still do. But I went ahead and bought a bunch of wooden toys that the kids promptly destroyed and/or banged into our existing furniture, thus destroying said furniture. We're not well-off, not even close, and I was spending tons on "great gifts". Then I realized, hey, if I was rich (or even middle class) and I had the choice to spend this money, I'd rather support hand-made, etc. But I just don't. Have. The. Money. I made some food from cheapo felt at the store. I gave them Crayolas. I mixed up some PlayDoh and gave them some cardboard boxes. They got those plastic toys from the dollar bin at Walmart instead of the lovely wooden animals that are like $12 a pop. Would I feel better if they were in all-organic cotton with no yucky plastic to mouth? Yeah. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta. I can't afford organic food. Would I prefer it? Yes. If I had money to sacrifice out of to get them safe stuff, would I? Yes. But my entertainment is an $8 Netflix subscription and a library card. There's no fancy phone, there's nothing beyond basic bills. We live on 12K a year. It's not even as if I get them a bunch of junky toys to make up for one or two nice ones. We're very minimalist and I can't remember the last time they got something.... Oh wait. I got DS a three-puzzles-for-two-dollars set, and DD got a rolling backpack for a dollar. They were from Walmart. Decidedly the least crunchiest places ever. Someplace I swore up and down I'd never shop for the kids. Oh well. I'm sticking by my ideals of no characters, no electronic toys, and only open-ended toys. (Well, puzzle excepting. Although the board for the puzzles was used as a pretend cookie tray today.)
post #13 of 17

Crunchiness has definitely been expensive for us in some areas, even though we don't go for silk handmade slings and wooden Waldorf toys. Food is a killer. Red meat is automatically grass-fed in New Zealand, but I can't in good conscience buy non-free-range chicken any more - or cage eggs - and that adds a bunch to the grocery bill. So does buying non-MSG soy sauce, the "ecological" disposables (we used cloth for DD, but she got a rash, so we switched to disposables at night; she's fully potty-trained now, though, and DS seems fine wearing cloth at night, so hopefully that won't be a recurring expense!), bacon with as few nitrates and glutamates in it as possible...

 

I'm not sure whether we spend more or less on clothes than the average family. I refuse to buy sweatshop-made, cheap new stuff, except for things I can't find/afford otherwise (so far, shoes, socks and stockings for DD and bras for me; I plan to learn how to knit socks one day, but it's been a dismal failure thus far). I do sew, and I try to recycle fabric and buttons and so on where possible, but it doesn't always work out neatly. I recently made DD a fairy dress for her dancing class out of new fabric, and it cost $60 - I could have bought a cheap tulle Disney-style one in the same shop for about $13! So, ouch.

 

Those aren't really marketing issues, though, they're health/ethics ones, so I don't feel too bad about them. At least, I'd feel worse if I didn't do them. :p I'd like to switch to more frugal meals - a few vegetarian, beans-and-rice dishes a week - but DH objects and our flatmate's on the Atkins diet, so that's not gonna happen.

 

Things I do resist buying:

 

-a fancy-schmancy masticating grain grinder with ceramic bits

-a fancy-schmancy masticating juicer with ceramic bits (which, if I'm going to be perfectly honest, we'd never use, and certainly never clean)

-a fancy-schmancy water filter

-expensive crocks for fermenting veggies

-a dehydrator (ehhh, it'd just take up space, and I've successfully dehydrated stuff in the oven before)

-a sidecar cosleeper thingy (I want one, but we can't afford it)

-nappy covers made out of designer prints, that cost a few dollars more than ones made with plain colours

-a breastpump of any kind (honestly, I've never really needed one, but I occasionally feel unprepared for emergencies)

-one of those awesome Swiss-made wooden bikes that grows with the child

 

All those things are things I've coveted in the past, largely because of marketing/peer pressure/whatever. And I'm fine without 'em!

 

I do have a certain cynicism towards cleaning and beauty products marketed as "natural" or "eco-friendly". Generally speaking, they're not. Lush haircare products, for instance, almost invariably contain SLS, which is a harsh surfactant that natural haircare buffs generally try to avoid; the fact that a few drops of lavender oil are added doesn't make the products any more natural or gentle than your average supermarket shampoo. So for cleaning I use baking soda and vinegar, and for my haircare I use very simple ingredients like shikakai, henna, honey, yoghurt, apple cider vinegar and so on. Which really is pretty cheap.

post #14 of 17

Dh often reminisces about my "German wooden toy phase."

 

I knew we would only have one child and we had 2 incomes (and do again now). By choice, we don't have lots of the status symbols and things most of our neighbours/friends consider "necessary" or just take for granted. We don't have a car. We don't have cable. We camp instead of cruise. We bought our house in an area we wanted to live in, but couldn't have afforded if we also had to make a car payment.

 

Are the things I want more expensive? You BET. I made a decision once to only have one dress and to buy it locally. Honestly, I just couldn't stick with that; but I want to move in that direction. I did splurge on a front-loading washer that would save power and treat our handmade things gently. But I am a sucker for clearance shopping and I discovered even Etsy has sales. I bought myself a necklace during their "Hearts for Haiti" campaign. Heck, the money was going to EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS And an artisan!

 

And with that, I have managed to rack up a personal credit card debt of $4000. That, despite our "frugality," only 1 child and a combined income of nearly $100,000 CDN. The household will be paying that off this month and I will be going to a direct-debit credit-card thingy.

 

So lots of our choices--most of them--are really woven into our values and we are in good financial shape. But I definitely got carried away by the pretty baubles and lovely handmade children's books and so many other things. Time to regroup.

 

Oh and I grew up scary-poor and got an over-the-top, irrational pleasure out of being able to "provide" for dd. Motives/values/desires can be pretty mixed-up and complicated and YES, I think we are a "targeted" advertising demographic.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

What's weird about the crunchy advertising for me is that the crunchier I become, the less money I spend. I don't need special products to help me make greener and gentler choices.


I really wish I had understood that when my kids were little. I longer for the very cool nfl things that we couldn't afford, and some how felt that I could have been a better mother had we been able to buy them.

 

Now I get it, but my kids are teens!

 

(and my money goes for things like braces!)

post #16 of 17

Completely OT, but when I read the thread title my first thought was "What does football have to do with being crunchy?" Sheepish.gif

 

 

I agree that status symbols vary between demographics.  I care nothing about cars or jewelry or designer clothes, but I would kill for a Dyson fan.  Oh, and I would love to buy just about everything on the Magic Cabin website, especially this!  And I would love to go back to shopping at only the natural food stores, like we did back when we had 2 stable incomes.  But I understand that these are luxuries that we just can't afford, so I ooh and ahh and sigh wistfully and dream of the day when I can justify blowing $200+ on a toy because it helps support a South American Indigenous Tribe (really, I no idea if this is the case, but it is the argument I will use).

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn08 View Post

Completely OT, but when I read the thread title my first thought was "What does football have to do with being crunchy?" Sheepish.gif

 



ME TOO! I thought you were facing a dilemma about whether to allow your dc to support the Steelers or something redface.gif

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