Opinion

4 Big Influencing Factors That Convince Singaporeans to Buy Stuff They Don’t Need

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Joanne Poh

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Some Singaporeans are so addicted to shopping they get panic attacks when they realise how much they spent on that one trip to Orchard Road. Every few weeks, someone on my Facebook feed posts that they’re going on a shopping fast.

You would think someone was pointing a gun to these people’s heads, forcing them to buy piles of clothes at H&M while consuming Llaollao yoghurt. But no, most of the time the only things to blame are lack of self-control and the following.

 

Advertising

If you lived in a cottage in an idyllic forest, you would have less exposure to advertising than the average Singaporean. Even if you don’t watch TV at all, ads are everywhere—they’re on your Facebook feed, they’re sprayed across the buses that roar past on your daily commute, they’re plastered all over MRT stations.

Have you ever wondered just why your girlfriends coo over earrings from Tiffany’s, but not from Soo Kee Jewellery? It’s got more to do with that iconic blue-green box than the actual product.

Next time you’re about to buy something, ask yourself exactly why you think it’s so cool. Is it because of the ads featuring beautiful Korean stars hawking the product, and is there a cheaper alternative that works just as well?

 

Peer pressure

Individuality isn’t exactly high on the average Singaporean consumer’s mind. People are much more concerned that they have what everyone else has.

There has to be a reason so many people have the exact same Chanel 2.55 bag, that quilted-looking one with the long chain handles. After seeing that bag on the arms of all their friends on Facebook and Instagram, people start getting the impression that it’s a “must-have”, and so the desire grows.

Things you never even knew existed come to your attention because your friends have them. I’ll be the first to admit I never thought of buying a Kindle, but after receiving rave reviews from bibliophile fans I started wanting one.

And if at some point in the distant past you ever used a wallet chain, wore baggy jeans à la JNCO or owned a Von Dutch cap, you have your friends to blame.

 

Incomplete information

Every now and then, we buy something we’ll later regret. I’m not just talking about the more obvious embarrassments like walking around in tracksuits like the Backstreet Boys used to, or getting ripped off by Sim Lim salesman.

There are way too many people who buy DSLR cameras to lug around when they’re on holiday because they think they’ll help them take better pictures. Unfortunately, if you’re not bothered to learn how to use the thing, you’ll produce better pics with an iPhone or a mirrorless camera.

The same goes for people who pay hundreds of dollars for juice detox programmes hoping that it will completely change their body in two weeks.

We need to be less lazy when it comes to handing over our money to some company. With the ability to read reviews on the internet and compare prices, there’s no excuse.

 

Laziness

It’s pretty ironic that Singaporeans work such long hours so they can earn money, but then they get forced to spend that money on ways to make their lives more convenient because they have so little free time.

Being lazy or needing convenience is a huge reason we end up parting with our money. If we had all the time in the world to whip up elaborate meals in the kitchen, we wouldn’t need to buy contraptions like microwaves or dishwashers.

Sure, we get that an expensive purchase like a car can still be worthwhile because of the time it saves you.

But if you’re so lazy you buy stuff like those neckties with the zips and massagers that are supposed to help you build muscles, you might be beyond help.

What other factors cause people to overspend? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • androol

    soooooooo did you get a kindle?

    • Yes I do have one in fact, it was a birthday gift. 🙂