When families in Windsor and Essex gather around their Christmas trees this year, chances are they may open a gift that was purchased on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S.
And while some may look at the isolated events that often mar Black Friday as a characterization of the worst of consumer behaviour, Odette School of Business professor Vincent Georgie says it’s time to re-think how we view the materialism that so many negatively associate with the holidays.
“It’s such a shame that we’ve that we’ve taken on the term ‘materialism’ to mean such a negative thing, because you can symbolize a lot with a material good,” said Georgie. “Material culture is actually the symbolism you give to an object that may have economic value, but often times has very little economic value. It doesn’t matter if it’s something you made at home or something you bought at the dollar store, it’s the intention behind it.”
Along with six of his graduate students, Georgie travelled to Chicago this year conduct field research, studying things like pricing, advertising, consumer motivation, atmospherics, demographics and just about anything else they could absorb. Besides observational research the group conducted interviews with shoppers and found that most of their intentions were altruistic.
“It’s all about giving,” he said. “There’s very little purchasing being done that’s actually for yourself. You’re thinking about your friends and your loved ones and what they would enjoy.”
Georgie will appear tomorrow on Research Matters on CJAM 99.1 FM, a weekly talk show that airs Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. and focuses on the work of University of Windsor researchers.