Consumption Is Omnipresent

Can we escape unbound consumerism and overconsumption? Is conscious and green consumption a myth? Have our attempts to buy sustainable any impact? Is voting for a better world with your hard earned cash a viable idea? Or is all this just not enough? Did we sign the future of humanity over to the wrong god? Is reducing our ecological footprint and enjoying the comforts of a modern lifestyle possible? Is the ethical consumer a delusional idea?

These and other critical questions are not exactly, what one expects from an e-commerce start-up. After all isn’t it wysker’s business to simply sell more products? Like so often in life, it isn’t that easy. And questions like these are always on our minds.

The wysker founders and team members grew up in a time, when it became obvious that the consumption patterns of developed nations are not sustainable. Resources eventually will run out. Climate change is real, dangerous and measurable. Pollution endangers not only exotic species but life itself. And we are as worried, active and political about it as most of our contemporaries.

We watched BUY-NOTHING-DAY grow from a crazy idea by Vancouver’s culture jammers Adbusters and artist Ted Dave to a campaign that includes millions in 65 nations around the world. We experienced organic food going from treehugger snack to every cupboard. We were there when animal-friendly and natural cosmetics went from oddity to mainstream. We witnessed second-hand clothing go from stigma, or at best subcultural passion, to fashion statement. We listened as sustainability went from radical argument to norm. And we for sure didn’t remain untouched by all of that.

Let’s step back two years in time. Back then wysker didn’t start as a shopping application. Much more the first idea was to build a new mobile browser, which speeds up the discovery of anything and everything. The browser was supposed to learn taste and intention as well as being fun and inspiring to use. Imagine Pinterest at high speed. Only then it appeared to the founders that they could revolutionize the buying experience of consumers — based on their new code.

As soon as the shopping idea was on the table, there was a loud, powerful and conscious voice. Co-founder Ann-Lauriene Haag spoke out the big “But … ” — in capital letters. And then there was the question: “… do we want to contribute to overconsumption?”. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. A long one.

So why did the founders proceed — in spite moral objections. In the following discussions and after some soul searching wysker’s team came to the subsequent realization: Consumption is omnipresent. It is everywhere. And it is quite unstoppable. This left wysker with three options:

Resign. Protest. Change.

wysker’s founders obviously chose option #3: How can wysker make consumption better? That’s what everybody here has been work on ever since. With better user data, we want to make the market fairer. We want to give the consumer a stronger voice. We want to give them more market power. And real access to better prices.s.

At the same time, wysker is built to be a selective buying tool. We encourage users to buy precisely what they want and need. Data and artificial intelligence help us to suggest products, which match up with the buying intent and the exact needs of our users. We help to find the one thing in a million. We call it “optimizing supply and demand.” Consequently, we hope to eliminate trial-and-error purchasing. And with it mis- and rebuying.

Now for the big question. Can this approach have a positive impact? In Germany, 40,2% of all consumers admit to at least one bad buy per year according to a recent study by Barclaycard and GFK. Germans mispurchased on average for 138,- € per person in the last 12 month and own an estimated 3.7 billion Euros worth of unwanted goods — collecting dust in their cabinets or ending in the trash can. That’s Germany alone. Even if it is only a relatively small share of all purchases, it amounts to a hell of a lot of avoidable trash. Scale it up to a global level, and you begin to get a feel for the giant field, we are working on.

We are aware that our argument is not providing the perfect solution to all the legitimate critique of consumerism. And we are aware that reducing mispurchases is not solving the world’s sustainability problems alone. And yes, we are still a shopping app. But if we can help here, it is a small step in the right direction. And everyone at wysker is pretty sure about that.

We do not develop wysker as a turbocharger for buy a lot and do it fast. For us wysker is first and foremost a tool for selective buying, finding just the right product at the right time out of almost infinite options. And last but not least it is a tool for increased customer satisfaction. Together we hope to create a valuable helper to conscious consumption. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sources:
1 Presseportal, Monica Bloch “In deutschen Haushalten verstauben Fehlkäufe im Wert von etwa 3,7 Milliarden Euro”, http://www.presseportal.de/pm/120797/3472103