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Global Consumer Economy Essay

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Updated: Nov 26th, 2019


Potter (1954) asserts that America, being a nation of abundance, has institutionalised the culture of advertisement. This is true for many other developed and developing countries where a plethora of billboards, posters, TV commercials, radio ads and print ads are a common feature of people’s lives. It came in the wake of industrial revolution that paved the way for modernisation, which in turn led to mass production of goods and services.

Therefore, sellers have to find a way of persuading people to buy their products; hence, the inevitable need for advertisement. Potter is able to draw a relationship between economic abundance and the national character of the Americans. He posits that the economic abundance in America has resulted into a materialistic lifestyle for the citizens. He attributes this fact to the effect of advertisements, which mostly glorify material wealth.

On the other hand, there is the institution of marketing as developed by Sheehan (2010). In the institution of marketing, it is generally accepted that people must be persuaded to buy products. It is also characterised by flexibility, variety, originality and competitive rivalry. Its base objective is to churn out commercial messages meant to persuade people to buy by spending more in terms of value and volume.

With that brief introduction, this paper draws comparison and contrast between the two critical business institutions. It will also highlight the extent of the compatibility that exists between the institution of advertising and the institution of marketing. This paper will focus mainly on the works of Potter (1954) and Sheehan (2010).

Similarities between Potter’s concept and Sheehan ideas

Potter and Sheehan seem to converge on the understanding that the institutions of advertising and marketing are the focal point in business operations especially in the societies of abundance. According to Potter (1954), the language of commerce has been elevated to the status enjoyed only by religion.

This view is shared by Sheehan who states that people have to learn the language of advertisements. This indicates that the two institutions play a key role in modern economics. Indeed, a lot of resources today are channelled into advertisement and marketing. People all over the world are constantly being inundated by a myriad adverts and marketing fads.

The two institutions are aimed at increasing people’s spending. The purpose of advertising is to create awareness about the existence of a given product or service and with the view of encouraging customers to buy them. Marketing, on its part, persuades buyers to purchase goods and services.

Therefore, both institutions cultivate the culture of spending among the population experiencing abundance since such populations have sufficient purchasing power. In many countries today, advertising and marketing are almost synonymous, or rather, they go hand in hand. Business enterprises take the extra mile to market their products and mostly this is achieved through extensive advertising.

Advertising and marketing have shaped the national character of some countries, particularly in the developed world. Needless to say, people’s lifestyles are being influenced by various specifically designed adverts and marketing activities. The countries of sufficiency and abundance are experiencing this uniquely interesting phenomenon.

A good illustration can be found in the area of alcohol. Today, many alcoholics are people who have been drawn into drinking through certain adverts and elaborate marketing activities. When a new alcoholic drink is manufactured, it is introduced to the market with a lot of pomp and fanfare.

This is accomplished through exciting road shows, adverts that depict sophistication as related to drinking and in some cases bombarding the public with leaflets and brochures that extol the supposedly superior qualities of the new drink. In some cases, individuals considered as celebrities are used to lure the unsuspecting members of the public, particularly the youth.

Another point of convergence between the institution of advertising and the institution of marketing is the exploitation of culture in an attempt to convince people to buy given products. The two scholars agree on the fact that many companies, particularly multinationals, devise and format their adverts and marketing strategies around the target people’s cultural background. This may include use of some terms in the local languages or depicting members of the local communities in the adverts.

In some cases, companies may introduce some products by sneaking them into people’s culture. For example, in order to create market for diamond, jewellery companies cleverly presented diamond as a symbol of love. Thus, today, the most precious wedding rings or gifts of love are those made from diamond. This drove the demand for diamond through the roof even though it is less worthy compared to gold.

The two institutions also share a common axiom; they encourage consumption. Increased consumption reflects on increased demand for a given product and hence will drive up sales. This is especially the case in states of abundance where people are endowed with sufficient wherewithal.

According to Sheehan (2010), this can be accomplished through the creation of a managed market-place. A managed market-place is designed to launch powerful commercial messages that strongly appeal to the potential and existing consumers in order to increase their volume of consumption spending (Sheehan, 2010).

The two institutions also share a common media. Advertising is done through TV, radio, newspapers, the internet among others. The same applies to the institution of marketing. They both need instruments of mass communication to pass their messages across to mass audience and ultimately, their intended target groups.

Advertising and marketing are also key indicators of the growth of the economy. A heightened activity in these two areas indicates that there is increased production of goods and services and which need to be consumed. They may make the economy to grow too fast, in which case the government might need to take measures to normalise it since it is likely to lead to inflation.

On the other hand, reduced activity in the two institutions is a sure warning sign that the country’s economy is on the decline. This will call for concerted effort by the government and other stakeholders to take appropriate measures in order to remedy the situation.


Despite the many similarities, the two institutions diverge at various points. First, whereas advertising deals with creation of awareness about the existence of a given product or a service, marketing aims at brand-making. In advertising, awareness is created about the availability of a given product on the market through various means such as the print and electronic media.

Marketing involves the modelling and presentation of the commodity to customers in a manner that would persuade them to acquire it. One illustration to this concerns the Coca cola Company. It advertises Coke as a soft drink that should be had “always”. As for the marketing, the drink is packaged in bottles of certain shapes that appeal to people’s fantasies.

Second, while the process of advertising may require just an individual to design a moving advert, marketing needs a collective effort. According to Sheehan (2010), marketing requires teamwork to manage and coordinate different corporate functions and priorities. This is because the institution of marketing is multi-disciplinary. This is known as brand management. Advertisement, on the other hand, may not require teamwork since it is not multi-disciplinary. A company may even hire or contract advertising agencies to do the job for them. This is mostly an expensive affair.

Third, marketing is usually conducted at the point of sale while advertisement may not. This implies that marketing encourages direct consumption of a given good or a service. It may require the customer to make instant decision, which may make them buy the product immediately rather than put it into consideration.

Advertisement, on the other hand, may be done away from the point of sale. In this case, the advertiser hopes to imprint the commercial message into the psyche of the potential customer so that they may buy the commodity later. Advertisement may employ slogans that impede themselves into the subconscious of an individual, and sometime even without the knowledge of the said individual.

Extent of compatibility

It is also important to establish if the two institutions are compatible with each other. In this regard, it is crucial to note that the two enjoy a symbiotic relationship with each other. Advertising alerts the populace about the existence of a good or service with a view to encouraging them to buy. The institution of marketing brands the advertised commodity and makes it more appealing to consumers. Thus, the two critical institutions combine forces to persuade and convince people to buy given products.

There is no clear-cut line between advertising and marketing. It can be argued that advertising is part of marketing or even vice versa. This is because the two may share the same resources in the course of their implementation. TVs, radios, the internet, magazines and journals are some of the media shared by the two institutions. Consequently, they can be said to complement each other.

Marketing creates the phenomenon known as the consumer culture (Sheehan, 2010). Sustaining the consumer culture requires constant transformation of the shared ways of thinking and acting in the arena of consumption. The culture can only be maintained through constant advertisement.

In particular, goods and services experiencing low demand have to be remodelled and repackaged in order to preserve their appeal to consumers. The institution of advertisement keeps the consumers posted on the existence of the brand created by marketers. This ensures a constant consumption of goods and services.

In order to ensure continued spending on a given commodity or service, the institution of marketing usually creates fashions. The same product is repackaged as a new fashion in the hope of persuading those who already have it to get another one. This is especially the case in the clothing and jewellery industry.

The fashions are released at intervals; thus ensuring that people keep spending on them in the name of keeping up with the current fashion. Mostly, it is the younger members of the community that are usually sucked into this trend. For this strategy to be successful there is need for constant advertising. The masses have to be informed on the latest releases in fashion through the mass media. The adverts are usually designed to make consumers believe that there is something new or special in the new repackaged commodity.


The institutions of advertising and marketing are very important in the corporate world today. This is particularly the case in developed economies where people are experiencing abundance as Potter (1954) puts it. These economies are characterised by people who have great purchasing power and consequently can engage in free spending.

Marketing and advertising strategies are effectives in such states because people have the necessary resources to even afford to be extravagant. However, this may not be applicable to poor economies of the third world countries, which are characterised by widespread poverty and unemployment. Sheehan (2010) refers to them as the economic systems of scarcity characterized by low purchasing power.

It has also been noted by Potter and Sheehan that the two institutions may have some negative influence on the population. Potter draws attention to the fact that due to advertisements, the American society could have become materialistic as people of plenty are induced to keep spending in order to keep the economy healthy. Other challenges faced include irresponsible alcoholism and smoking which is usually glorified in most advertisements and marketing ventures.

It is important that appropriate checks and balances be instituted to guard against moral erosion that may be brought about by incessant advertising and marketing of critical products such as drugs and alcohol.


Potter, D.M., 1954. People of plenty: Economic abundance and the American character. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sheehan, B., 2010. The Economics of abundance: Affluent consumption and the global economy. Northampton, MA: Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

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1. IvyPanda. "Global Consumer Economy." November 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/global-consumer-economy/.


IvyPanda. "Global Consumer Economy." November 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/global-consumer-economy/.


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