Karl Marx vs. Jeff Bezos. Old-fashioned fight?


Even brands are advocating anti-consumerist rhetoric. Has everything been seen? Not so sure. Whether this is an opportunistic show of responsibility or a major shift in capitalism, one thing is certain: this is only the beginning.

Teaser headlines, daily deals, 12-packs. You've probably already been trapped by the need for more and more - and the self-flagellation that inexorably follows.

This doesn't make you a Panurge, just a human wanting comfort, leisure and pleasure. A slight paradox: you are at the same time sensitive to the social, cultural, economic and ecological impact of your purchases. Can you really use Uber AND complain about pollution? Buy Ikea furniture AND deplore deforestation? Likerting everything you want AND vilifying ultra-connectivity? Brands are at the heart of the dilemma : they are the source of the problem... but can they also become the solution ? Seenk's strategic planning opens the debate.

« Don’t buy our cars »

And this is from a car manufacturer. In its spot vidéo, Volvo even goes so far as to appropriate the line from the anti-consumerist Fight Club: "the things you own always end up owning you". In short, don't buy anymore: rent! Or how to make you feel like you're detaching yourself from the car... while you're driving it.

Same mechanism for WeTransfer, which urges you to disconnect, to go running in the wheat fields, to let the waves tuck you in, to blossom in art. Paradoxical for a pure player? Not if the promise is ultra-fast document sharing to get you plugged in again even faster

In both cases, the brands criticise the hold of the capitalist system on our lives. The principle is the same: opposing consumption to better enjoy it. This is the Banksy paradox: criticising the system and at the same time making a living from it.

All rotten!

Not so fast. From brands are acting sincerely to transform the system. For example, MAIF is becoming the first « mission-oriented company », which included a societal objective in its articles of association in black and white. 32 major groups sign the "Fashion Pact" for fairer fashion. Ikea launches a furniture rental service. Evian proposes a connected water fountain to reduce plastic consumption. Even luxury adheres for rent and à clothing repair.

Welcome to the « guilt-free consumption » or win-win-win consumption to the friends. Triple win? Let's take Tesla. Its cars are electric (win for Mother Nature), design (win for social status) and sell like hotcakes (win for Elon Musk). So you can buy with a light heart and enjoy an unadulterated experience.

The only downside to this idyllic picture is the price. It will cost you €91,000 for a Tesla Model S. Without options. And what about when Evian releases a limited edition reusable bottle designed by designer Virgil Abloh during Fashion Week? If responsible consumption remains the preserve of an elite, the change will be minimal at best.

The end of concessions

Between beautiful promises and unattainable solutions, the equation seems insoluble. To help us solve it, let us listen to the enlightened advice of the most mathematician of philosophers, Edgard Morin. "Faced with complexity, we must think globally.

His maxim is all the more true in the post-truth era. Brand distrust is on the rise. Those who do not create unanimity have everything to lose. Everyone tries to separate the real from the fake, to differentiate between real progress and revolutionary discourse, but without much impact. The planets must be aligned or there will be a backlash. Only those who propose concrete solutions and adopt a systemic approach to the meaning they wish to give to their brand will completely erase any doubts.

For Hegel, the future is the reconciliation of opposing ideas in the present. Perhaps the future of brands lies in listen to and even work with their critics to succeed in their transformation. Should Jeff Bezos invite the post-Marxists to his table?

Already in 2014, the Trendsetter Lidewij Edelkoort announced the need for the industrial fashion system to completely reinvent itself.