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March 05, 2005

Communist Virtue

I have no sympathy for the violence and tyranny of the Communist regimes of the Soviet Union and China. But in condemning their violence, it's too easy to ignore the idealism that also fueled the grassroots energy of those regimes. There was an interesting reminder of that idealism in this recent story about the frustrations of companies in marketing to older consumers in the Chinese economy:

The current over-60s, who suffered through war and the Cultural Revolution, tend to be the most abstemious of all, with little desire for consumer goods. Mr Doctoroff talks of the “battle weary” who see slogans and ads as an evil. Nor do older Chinese like indulging themselves. The “selflessness of older people is a real marketing challenge,” says Edward Bell of Ogilvy & Mather, an ad agency.
Idealism and virtue is such an obstacle to selling mindless consumerism, sadly. Against the stereotype that consumerism was just waiting to be unleashed, the older generation still apparently holds onto that indifference to luxury. But companies can take heart that the younger generation, raised on Coca Cola and advertising, is rapidly abandoning any of that dangerous risidual selflessness.

Posted by Nathan at March 5, 2005 01:37 PM