The Culture of Commerce
Welcome to Hyperlink Magazine
By Janna Marlies Maron
I used to be a shopaholic. Every two weeks on payday I’d make a beeline after work straight to my favorite discount department stores, Ross and Marshall’s. I was in my twenties; I had my first professional job; I worked hard, and I deserved the reward of a new top or ten.
It was easy for me to drop $100 or more on every shopping trip because I never spent more than $10 on any one item. “It’s only $9.99,” I’d think as I piled my basket full of tops and skirts and pants and sometimes a pair of shoes for good measure. I didn’t care about the label or where these clothes came from. All I cared about was that they were cheap. (We won’t talk about how quickly I racked up debt that my “professional job” couldn’t help me pay for.)
That was nearly twenty years ago.
Chances are, you don’t need me to tell you that the culture of commerce has changed. How people shop has changed. How people spend money has changed. And, perhaps more than anything else, where people shop and spend money has changed.
I’m no exception. For proof, here’s a list of some of my recent purchases:
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
- ThirdLove bra
- Unbound, by Steph Jagger
- Apple AirPods
- Pact leggings
Every one of these items was purchased online and was delivered straight to my door. I don’t “go” shopping anymore. I buy books on Amazon.com because I learn about one on Kickstarter and then my best friend recommends it to me (Good Night Stories), or because I interact with the author on Instagram (Unbound). I buy bras and leggings because I read about a female CEO shaking up the industry in Fast Company (ThirdLove) or because the company makes basics from ethically sourced cotton (Pact). I buy technology because the first high school research paper I got an A on in 1995 was written on a Macintosh Performa (AirPods).
Maybe my experience sounds familiar, and you too are someone who cares about where you shop and spend your money. Maybe you don’t call yourself a brand loyalist, but you certainly will buy from some brands and not from others. And it’s not just about purchasing products, but also services, experiences, and food.
My husband and I are Airbnb hosts, and we use the platform as guests when we travel as often as we can, because we prefer the experience. We also prefer to use Lyft instead of Uber when available in a city because we feel that Lyft’s values more closely align with our own. We prefer coffee from Temple, one of the local roasters in Sacramento where we live, because we would rather support our local economy than a corporation like Starbucks (and the coffee’s better).
The common theme here is that, even when I’m not aware of it, I am deeply loyal to brands when I feel connected to them. Of course, that connection happens as a result of technology and the instant access that I have to not only shop, but to also research and learn as much as I want to about the companies that my money flies off to with such ease across the networks of interwebs. Those same networks create a never-ending chain of links between brands and consumers, continually bringing them back together for interaction — you might say we’re hyperlinked.
Those two links, the research and the learning, that I have with brands I care about compel me to ask questions like, how is it that certain brands are so successful at creating a link with me? What will happen to my favorite brands, the small ones, if policy changes under the new administration and net neutrality goes away? What happens when brands feel the need, or are forced, to take a stand on a controversial issue, and how should they best make a decision about how, when, what to say?
I ask these questions because I’ve come along way from that twenty-something who didn’t care about where she was spending her money. Because I now care deeply about what the brands that I associate with say about me. Because if I can spend money on a pair of shoes and also help provide a pair to someone in need, then hell yes I will do that every time.
I ask these questions because I’m sure I’m not the only one asking them. If you’re asking them too, this magazine is for you. Whether you represent a brand or you’re a fan of brands, this magazine is for you. If you’re curious about how digital life changes and affects us in real life, this magazine is for you.
We’re attempting to answer some of those questions, and I invite you to join the conversation. We’d love to hear from you with feedback, questions, or comments. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’d like to pick up a copy of the latest issue of Hyperlink, just go to hyperlinkmag.com.
Welcome to Hyperlink, a magazine for both brands and fans, a starting place for conversation about the culture of commerce and connected engagement.
Thanks for reading.