While consumption is an act which people get engaged in, sociologists understand consumerism to be a characteristic of society and a powerful ideology, which frames our world view, values and relationships, identities and behaviour. Consumerism drives us to consumen and seek happiness as well as fulfillment through consumption, serving as a necessary counterpart to capitalist society that prioritizes mass production and unending growth in sales.
On the one hand, many people think that consumerism encourages highly wasteful attitudes. We waste our money on goods that we often do not need. It leads to overproduction, what provokes the waste of valuable resources and energy.
On the other hand, people think that we have a tremendous amount of choices in the marketplace, hence… who do not like that shirt on the mannequin? Because there are specialized stores for each activity. For big businesses, consumerism allows brand differentiation where we have the same product sold under many different names.
To sum up, consumerism works very well for capitalists and economists, but I do think that before purchasing something, we should think if we really need it. Everybody consumes all the time, but.. is it necessary if we later will waste it?