A history through objects in a post-material world

26 January 2010 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

Eleanor Cooksey writes:

I have been enjoying the current BBC Radio 4 series ‘A History of the World in a 100 objects’ in which Neil McGregor, the Director of the British Museum, tells a history of humanity using objects from the museum’s collection. As I listened to his intricate description of the pestle, it made me realise that objects, things, ‘stuff’ – or however we like to call them – still have a very important role to play in our lives.

It is often easy to assume we live in a ‘post material’ world, but in a post credit crunch recovery marketplace, should we re-evaluate how we think about ‘stuff’? Looking at data from our 2009 Global Monitor Survey suggests that it is perhaps worth reviewing our hypotheses. Consumers are less likely to agree that they have all the material things they need: in the UK, this dropped from 60% in 2008 to 56% in 2009. In fact, the only market surveyed where feelings of material satisfaction have increased is Australia. Moreover, though we may not have everything we need, we are also less likely to buy more as spending without consequences is no longer in favour.  Again, all markets – bar China – are showing a greater reluctance to take on debt. This suggests we are more likely to value what we have now.

Our research also suggests that people are still as interested in spending on experiences as accumulating possessions, but this is less about extreme experiences, and more about the enjoyment of simpler pleasures. Such pleasures, in fact, could consist of listening to something interesting on the radio, or going to a museum.

The image above is from the BBC’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects‘ website, and is used with thanks. For more information about accessing Global Monitor, please contact our UK Marketing and PR Manager, Jennifer Childs.

Entry filed under: consumers, history, trends. Tags: , .

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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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