During my university degree; I’ve always heard professors telling us no to use our laptops during class and they reasoned that a study found that many students often end up getting distracted with other things such as social networking and online shopping which would hurt their grades.
Online shopping also seemed to result in the downfall of many businesses. Companies such as forever 21, Sears, Blockbuster and ToysRus were all giants before their lack of innovation and refusal to keep up with technology resulted in their inevitable failure.
There are many reasons why people love online shopping, sometimes even getting addicted to it.
This article will be focused on the social/cultural aspect of online shopping and how we lean into this craze and ultimately cause this behaviour to keep increasing within our societies.
Before discussing the reasons behind why people want to shop online in the first place, I must clarify that I will be focusing on the Fast fashion industry of online shopping.
If you ask any fashion designer, they’ll tell you that fast fashion is the worst thing to have ever happened to this generation.
Fast fashion clothing is based on the most recent fashion trends that is presented in Fashion week. It usually is produced so quickly and goes out of fashion just as quickly.
Some brands that are considered fast fashion include Fashion Nova, Forever 21, Shein, Asos, Topshop, and the most famous of all H&M.
Fast fashion brands are usually stereotyped as having cheap, poor quality, stolen designs. Whether this is true or not is up for discussion, nevertheless fast fashion is pretty cheap.
Because of the strong online presence of these brands, people usually turn to online shopping to get their clothing needs and so I’ve come up with a few theories as to why online shopping works so well.
The first reason why people love online shopping so much is because of group polarization. Group polarization means that like-minded people reinforce one another’s viewpoints. This phenomenon strengthens the opinions of each person within that group.
When we consider how the culture has influenced online shopping through group polarization, it’s easy to see what I mean.
One example I’ll be using today is Fashion Nova. Fashion Nova is a fast fashion clothing company that a lot of celebrities and instagram models wear and advertise. It’s a very popular brand within the online fashion community.
So how Fashion Nova works is by sending items to instagram models or having them buy them and then featuring those models on their instagram pages. The instagram model get the fame of being considered famous and gaining new followers from their feature while the business gets free advertisement where people feel a sense of exclusivity behind the brand’s name. This way they manage to build a strong community around their business while boosting their sales.
The group polarization that takes place is fully an advantageous step for the business in the right direction while it pushes people to want to buy more things either to be featured on the page or be considered “hot” or “on trend”.
People fluctuate towards what makes their egos grow and what makes them feel good. If you think by buying these clothes you will belong to a group of attractive women, then that’s what you’ll do. Simple as that.
Upward social comparison:
My second theory is upward social comparison which states that people compare themselves with those who are better off than they are.
Upward social comparison isn’t necessarily bad since it can inspire people to be more optimistic and motivate them to reach higher levels in their lives. However, when considering online shopping, it’s easy to see how all the showing off that’s done on social media could get to some people.
When someone is following a celebrity like Kylie Jenner for example, they see all the luxury see has. From cars to trips to shopping sprees, it’s all being flaunted on her social media accounts to her millions of followers. Her showing off isn’t necessarily bad, what I’m more interested in is how this will be reflected in her audience’s psyche.
When you see someone more successful than you, you want to have that success. Many people who follow Kylie Jenner will go on and purchase things that she recommends regardless of the underlying reasons.
Fashion Nova, for example, does this alot where they reach out to popular influencers on Instagram and ask them to advertise their clothing hoping for people to go on and buy those clothes, and usually it works out.
Upward social comparison is an indirect way that online shopping thrives within the online communities. Especially across platforms like Instagram. Whether it’s because we trust that person, or we like the piece of clothing, or we aspire to be as successful as the person, most people will likely follow celebrities and in turn buy things that they recommend.
It’s all about advertising to the right people with the right audience.
What is beautiful is good stereotype:
The third theory I have is called ‘what is beautiful is good stereotype’ which is the belief that external attractiveness signifies positive internal qualities.
You know how people say first impressions aren’t important? They’re lying.
The reason why people put so much effort to look good is because intrinsically they know that looking good signifies good internal qualities. Even if there is no data to back this up.
The reason why stereotypes exist is because people are fairly lazy. Our brains want a shortcut to just about everything, so it decided to just stereotype all attractive people as being good.
When we look at fast fashion, a lot of it is meant to attract people’s attention. Many people want to be considered attractive and fashionable by their peers so this vicious cycle of fast fashion is born. It’s like a black hole for all your money.
You buy items in the hopes of looking good and leaving positive impressions on people, you wear the item just for it to quickly fall out of fashion and a new one to replace it, then you’re forced to go back online and buy a new item to keep with the trends and keep that positive impression of yourself.
Most people just want to be accepted.
Online shopping is super convenient and with the global pandemic that we’re currently in, more and more people are going to be turning to online shopping for the comfort and safety that it provides.
Jeff Bazon, a titan in the ecommerce world and the founder of Amazon proved how online selling can be such a successful business. People now are even speculating that he might be the world’s first Trillionaire (the math is sketchy though).
This is how far the online world has become. I feel like with the introduction of the internet, the world exploded and now almost anything’s possible.