Obese people don’t eat greater quantities because they enjoy food more than other people do; they eat more because they get less enjoyment from food. While one person might only need a square of Cadbury milk chocolate to feel satisfaction, for someone with clinically diagnosed obesity to get the same sense of reward it might take the entire block.
That’s all according to some recent research. What’s not clear is whether the desensitization to pleasure from food is the cause of weight gain or result of it. But it’s an interesting theory none the less. And while Howard Parry-Husband was speaking at LMFF industry forum The New Consumer – albeit on a topic completely unrelated to food – I found my thoughts being drawn back to that research. Dopamine rewards are chemical, after all, and much the same regardless of whether our pleasure comes from a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a new pair of Louboutins. Hence I found myself wondering: are we fashion obese? Has too much choice, too much accessible fashion, made us require more to reach the same level of satisfaction?
Wolfgang Sievers, Couple leaving La Pastorale Frocks, 125 Collins Street, 1965: State Library of Victoria, H98.30/404
Mid way through Howard’s presentation he presented some research that went part of the way to answering my question. He’d been talking about both a lack of differentiation between retailers, a resulting over-saturation of choices, and how that leads consumers to either buy up and spend more, or buy down and spend less. Why buy in the middle when it’s all the same?
Seems that, in Australia at least, buying down is the more popular option. In a survey – though of a relatively small sample of 1000 Australian consumers – around 60% responded that they prefer to buy more for a lesser cost. But their satisfaction is also lower. As Howard put it, “the more choice you actually have… the less satisfied you are with the choices you make.” In turn, the less choices you make full stop. This leads to two consumer trends: buying lots of low quality products, or buying nothing at all. Both of which are detrimental trends for mid-high end retailers.
So what can be done? At Fashionising.com we believe it’s a movement that can start with the consumer that benefits every shopper’s wardrobe and wallet – that is, the shifting focus away from fast consumerism towards a curated wardrobe. For retailers, Howard’s suggested solution is much the same: retailers must do more to set themselves apart, to counteract rampant consumerism by being more focused on vision and differentiation. Between retailer and consumer shifting focus, our overstuffed wardrobes will start to be fed less and yet will be left feeling more satisfied.