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My previous column dealt with the fact that getting rid of “stuff” and simplifying life is trending.

Most of this due to a series about Tidying Up streaming (commercial free of course) on Netflix.

On the tails of that, I have a new theory: I wonder if minimalist thinking and the trend for young people to not want a lot of stuff is somewhat arising from new television viewing habits?

If you pretty much exclusively stream your programming through subscription services such as Hulu and Netflix, you really aren’t exposed to all the advertising we once were.

Is a lack of commercials making buyers less, well, commercial?


I realized it myself when watching a football game on regular television the other day after months and months and months of not watching any regular television.

All of the sudden my husband and I were like foreigners in a strange land somewhat fascinated with all the advertising! This move to not seeing advertising as much seems to correlate with my own revised spending habits.

I know my college-age children are far less materialistic as well.

Millenials have been credited for revamping the food industry — both grocery and dining. They are much more demanding of quality ingredients, local sourcing, and expect companies to “give back” to their communities.

All admirable until you are the chain restaurant with a “freezer to fryer” food prep mentality. Those are not faring well.

Even the likes of McDonald’s was moved to begin claiming it had “sustainable beef.” I have no idea if they do or do not.

To me “sustainable beef” sounds like a fancy term for holding a justifiable grudge.

Millenials are also considered more ethnically diverse and have proven more willing to try different cultural dining experiences.

I’m from the heartland so that translates to hummus. We eat a lot of hummus.

Very fancy

Sushi is also gaining a foothold, although it pays to be choosy.

GirlWonder, just this weekend, passed on a $9.99 sushi buffet. I think that was a wise move this far from any source of fresh sushi. The writing is on the “daily specials” wall.

Today’s consumers are more likely to seek out-of-the-way and locally owned dining more than ever before.

Word of mouth and online reviews hold more weight than a cleverly crafted commercial these days.

Young shoppers also love thrift stores. There was a time when the most frequently used item sought by college-age buyers was textbooks. Now, without a constant barrage of televised advertising, they seem to enjoy curating their own style beyond what Madison Avenue might decree.

They do this at consignment stores and Goodwill. These stores rarely advertise on television. Still, they thrive.

All of these cycles back to my own unproven theory: we don’t watch commercials anymore.

I grew up with commercials — for clothing, cologne, bath products, cleaning products, foods of all kinds, home decor, lawn and garden needs, and pretty much everything else.

By the time I was a teen, VCR recordings made it marginally easier to fast forward through commercials, but we still watched our fair share.

I was the “Pepsi Generation” but “Coke was It.” Unless, of course, I wanted to “Be a Pepper too.” (What did that even mean?)

I knew that being a successful adult meant a house full of Presidents Day sale home furnishings, a nice car or two in the garage, and probably a lifetime membership to a record club.

I knew that I wanted Oreos, Tropicana orange juice and that “Choosy Mothers Choose Jif.” My mom chose Skippy, but I think she loved me nonetheless.

I can still recall the jingle for a local carpet store three decades later. Three rooms of shag for a low, low price sticks with a person.

Commercials for chain restaurants showed me sizzling hamburgers, cool swirls of ice cream and pizza dripping mozzarella and sauce.

I’m embarrassed to admit I never cared a bit if they were sustainable or locally sourced. Still, I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Buy now

Furniture store ads assured us we needed a new living room suite. Ditto the master bedroom, patio and so on.

Nothing was more relentlessly pushed on consumers than the Chia Pet. I think at one point it was a law that every home have one.

Today we watch streaming services and DVR programming that means we never have to see an advertisement if we choose not to.

I saw more advertising the last time we went to the movies than I’ve seen on television in the past five years.

Fortunately, as I write this the Super Bowl is tomorrow. I’m invited to a party to watch it. Since I know next to nothing about football, I will simply enjoy the showdown between all the best commercials I don’t see the rest of the year.


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