I’m a product of current American culture. I like my latte hot, my CrossFit challenging, and my TV shows in a full-season format for binge-watching. Most of all, I love to surf the Internet.
Entire evenings will go by and I’m not really sure what I did, only that it’s after midnight and my laptop battery is almost dead.
Then, I read a 2014 study about the online behaviors of Millennials and realized exactly where those lost evenings go. When it comes to the Web, it seems that I spend my time much like a 14-to-34-year-old. Actually, let me restate that because it’s not just me. When it comes to the Web, a huge percentage of Americans, regardless of age, spend their time the same way. We are browsers. We poke through endless products, zoom in, zoom out, Pin photos, read reviews, compare prices, and … generally don’t buy anything. It’s highly unproductive. It’s very fun.
Last year, The Intelligence Group, a youth-focused data company, surveyed 1,300 Millennials, and a full 50 percent responded that they regularly shop for items they have no intention of buying. One third also stated that they find the act of browsing more enjoyable than actually making a purchase. The report concluded that e-commerce has become its own form of recreation, with young Americans spending more and more time shopping without ever clicking that “purchase” icon. The Intelligence Group dubbed this behavior “fauxsumerism.”
This trend is important, and I disagree that it’s only the purview of youth. Houzz built an entire empire around fauxsuming and I would guess that the site’s largest share of users is aged between 30 and 50 years old. Pinterest’s fans spend hours flexing their fauxsuming muscles, and the site’s demographics span various age brackets.
And the behavior is hardly new.
As a child, I desperately wanted pierced ears, but my old-school father said no. I spent a full year browsing jewelry stores, and staring at the earrings of every woman I saw with a near-stalkerish look of adoration. By the time my dad finally relented, I knew exactly what I wanted—silver feathers with drops of turquoise. My need to posses this miracle of fine design had exponentially increased over the time I spent fauxsuming it.
This process is old news to remodelers. We’re all aware that the average homeowner logs in many happy months researching options before making that first call to a professional.
But if fauxsumerism is here to stay, then remodelers would be well advised to create an online presence geared toward that activity. It’s great to put beauty shots on Houzz and your company website, but homeowners are interested in more. They want product information, specs, reviews, ideas, links, and before-and-after photos. A short caption alongside a project can make a huge difference. (“Wall-hung toilets look contemporary and save space in a smaller bathroom.”) This not only makes your site stickier, it also helps brand the expertise of your firm.
To that end, if you’re already doing a version of this online, I’d enjoy seeing the results. Send me a link, I’m interested.