The American Consumer

When it comes to understanding sales and consumerism across borders, one must first understand their own culture’s attitudes towards buying and consuming products and services.

This month, we will delve into understanding the various mindsets or characteristics that motivate the American consumer into making purchases.

The active American — The “Just Do It” mentality, American’s don’t just sit there, they DO something and they are known for getting things done. Children are taught to stay busy; people are rewarded for activity and performance. Foreigners always say: “Americans always seem to be in a hurry.” Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Americans shop this way, although some do, some will take their time about completing a purchase and may even delay the purchase or another time.

The Industrious American — Hard work is rewarded and it is part of the Protestant work ethic. Consumers are skeptical about goods that promise effortless results or that eliminate the need for hard work. Products should demonstrate their capacity to work hard and to get the job done as quickly as possible and its sources must come from a trusted advisor or from tried and tested results of positive performance, before most Americans will complete a purchase.

The Materialistic American — Materialism is part of the Protestant work ethic just as much as hard work. This concept states that one’s worth can be measured in dollars, which equal income and wealth. Income and wealth lead to consumerism. Americans like to accumulate things and have the space with which to store their things in, like their large homes and large cars. Americans like to have the biggest, or the best, or the latest product out there; it is a sign of success for the American.

The delay of gratification — Traditionally American culture has stressed the necessity to postpone gratification over extended periods of time. This concept allows one to gain an education over many years before beginning to receive the benefits of efforts. This value comes from the puritan aspect of delaying gratification until the work is completed and can be seen in the old saying: “Work before pleasure.” This concept is also a middle class mindset in America, as delaying gratification will allow you to do better in the near, and at times, not so near future. That does not mean that some people, depending on their personality or ways of living delay gratification, it is not uncommon for some Americans to seek instant gratification, but by and large the concept of waiting for things to get better is the overall American mindset. This attitude plays itself out in the general population. For example, when the economy is slow or the nation is in an economic slump. Most Americans buckle down, spend less they “tighten the belt,” as they say.

The Serious American — Americans tend to be serious and usually equate levity with frivolity. Humorous or comic appeals to consumers usually get their attention, but they often fall short of selling the goods.

The Abstaining American — Things that are openly sensual are distrusted, because American consumers buy products only with proper rationale. It has to be good for them or they must have earned it in order to complete a purchase.

Be aware of some of the various types of characteristics and mindsets that the American consumer has and tailor your product or service to it; you will find yourself being a bit more successful in selling to the American population.

I end this piece with the following: “You are a foreigner everywhere, except in your own culture”. Candida Marques – Global Arrival © 2018.


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