Anti-consumerism and brands

Note: I am using the word “consumerism” defined by Google as, “the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods”.

I don’t really buy stuff, in general. I’m horribly responsible, and I do not like clutter. Sure, I buy wine, cosmetics, and replacement clothing, but that’s about it.

When you’ve got six-figure student loans and you’re planning to take on a mortgage and have two kids, how do you really buy stuff?

There’s only one consumer good that I’ve been lusting after for years, and that’s a sick sound system for my home. One day, I’ll probably throw down for it -- if and when I find the perfect one. Bang and Olufsen, maybe. That would be worth it for me.

I just name-dropped a brand and cringed. I don’t have a stake in Bang and Olufsen, but I still cringed. There’s something cringe-worthy about people obviously selling branded goods -- they’ve actually got a stake in it!

The thing is, even if you aren’t receiving compensation to sell a brand, you always sort of have a stake in it when you praise it, because if your opinions are not reliable, then people aren’t going to care about what you say. Whenever you go around saying that you like something, you’re selling it. You might as well be handing out flyers or wearing a T-shirt with the brand’s logo on it.

I only like brands that deliver at least fair value; preferably more than fair. I love spending a dollar on incredible street food when I’m traveling internationally. I’ll tell everyone about my favorite place to eat in Thailand (it’s a street cart in Ao Nang). I also think it’s worth it to spend hundreds of dollars on jeans and thousands of dollars on sound systems that can be enjoyed for years.

Fair or greater value is about results, and I loathe things that are overpriced. For example, the restaurant that I hate the most in my neighborhood makes perfectly good food. But it has no business charging high premiums when its food is just good and nowhere near a mighty gastronomical achievement. The portions are tiny!

Bottom line is, you can be anti-consumerism and still advocate for brands. You’re doing it anyway, whenever you say that you like something. It just has to be reasonable.

So yeah, if I ever say a brand is good, you can expect that I think that it delivers at least fair, and preferably more than fair value for the price. I think it's a solid criterion. Having an eye for things that are underpriced on the market is what made Warren Buffett who he is today.

What brands do you like, and why?