Consumer Culture: The rise of E-commerce – Optimistic or Pessimistic to the consumer?

E-commerce, as a digitally new rising platform, it has changed dramatically the way people shopping in the recent years. Stepping into the technologically-advanced era, the Internet has blurred the line between e-commerce and traditional commerce, which has created an unpredictable, but still beneficial outcome to both merchant and consumer. The online retail industries have at least taken 32% of the global market. Just take a glance at those worldwide electronic commercial companies, like Amazon, Tao Boa, and E-Bay. People nowadays tend to purchase their ideal items online, due to the diversity, flexibility and most importantly for those who live far away from central districts can now no longer drive few hours only for buying a tiny gadget.  However, offering people nowadays more chances to engage with products and services, in other words, it is actually encouraging the consumption culture. Thus, through the example of online shopping, we will discuss the rise of E-commerce has optimistic or pessimistic influence to consumer.


First, consumption allowing consumer to be active. In the past, the ways of people consumption were limited to walk into a real shop, picking up their favourite items or even need to visit different stores to compare both the quality and the price of the same item. After the rise of E-commerce, people nowadays have much more options for consumption compared to the past century. When you simply type “online shopping” on Google, the first three results are all about E-commercial companies’ websites. Some may argue that digital consumption would make people passive as they spent a lot of time only sitting in front of their screen and clicking the “add to cart” button. However, it is actually not difficult to find out that the development of E-commerce has become mature and offered an effective platform for consumption, which produces an active influence.  The rise of E-commerce is nowadays “far from being the passive victim of commercialism’s juggernaut, and the consumer has progressively been recognized”. With the flexibility of online shopping, people are now on one hand offered with choices of consumption, and can actively encourage the consumer to purchase their ideal items in this boundless virtual commercial world. That is why online shopping has become a popular consumer culture. Since then, people can progressively search whatever they are interested in online. According to a reliable research conducted in 2013, people’s average spending in online store has largely increased 46% since 2011, and in the following years, it has still remained on a high level of consumption rates. The active consuming performance is especially evident in the Chinese consumer market, as in 2011 Tao Boa had officially made a huge expansion, and formed other three major online sales platforms which are popular in Chinese communities. Tao Bao, Tmall, and Etao can be cited as the classic examples here. Due to the population among Asian society, they even developed a new way of consumption, which is “consumer to consumer”, which means as a consumer, you would also have rights to sell your products on the site. Thus, digital consumption is not only about making people active in the purchase, but it is warming up the entire consumption market to become more mature, flexible and diversified.

Besides, consumption allows people to form a specific identity group. Consumption in the online world is actually connecting one and other, but not tearing us apart. Consumption in a certain way can gather a group of people who share the similar or even the same interest together. Marvel series of products can be a reflective case study about consumer culture. In the recent years, the superhero influence has swept through the world market and taken a significant place in numerous and countless fans’ hearts. The Avengers in the opening weekend gross had already reached $207.4 million, which is 5th highest grossing film of all time. More surprisingly, we are talking about the movie related items selling online. Just take a look at those items only selling on Marvel’s official websites. There are already over 1000 products are currently promoting on there, including costumes, accessories, toys, and even sleepwear, which are all about Marvel, not to mention those unofficial ones from Tao Bao China. 🙂



Undoubtedly, as one of the super fans of Marvel’s superhero, people will consume those costumes to feel the taste of being Iron Man and Captain America.  It can particularly happen in a Marvel fans gathering when people can wear their dream hero’s suit. In New York, it had a yearly Marvel fans day, offering a chance for Marvel’s lover to approach each other. Through the online consumption, people can buy all the movie-related items to support. It further proves that online store is providing customers with various choices to purchase items, and more critically a chance for people who have same interests to connect each other, in order to form a specific identity group.

In the end, the flourish of E-commerce has progressively changed the way consumption.I am not saying that online consumption does no harm to people. However, the consumption in the online world can indeed pose a positive influence on both people and the global economy.


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