Consumers across the globe cannot avoid mass consumption of advertisements and products. However, one cannot forget the repercussions of over spending and over consumption. This leads to an obsessive disorder-compulsive buying disorder. Compulsive buying is a form of compulsive consumption which showcases abnormal consumer behaviour. Compulsive buying is regarded as dark consumerism (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2000).
McElroy, Kleck, Pope, Smith, and Strakowski (1994) defined compulsive buying disorder as it a mal adaptive preoccupation with buying or shopping, whether buying or shopping impulses or behavior, that either (1) is experienced as irresistible, intrusive, and/or senseless or (2) results in frequent buying of more than can be afforded or of items that are not needed, or shopping for longer periods of time than intended or (3) causes marked distress, or (4) is time-consuming, significantly interfere with social or occupational functioning, or (5) results in financial problems (e.g., indebtedness or bankruptcy). (p. 242)
As per scholars (O’Guinn and Faber 1989 p.155), compulsive buying is defined as an act of chronic, repetitive purchasing that became a response to primary negative event or feelings. It is said to provide a short-term gratification, however, that cause harm to individuals /others. Boundy (2000) argues that compulsive spenders make use of shopping to meet the non-financial needs for self-esteem, personal potency and community. However, if one simply focuses on self-esteem and nothing else, one can never get enough or spend enough to feel god about oneself. Similarly, if one’s sense of power is based on distinguishable material goods, one will always crave more.
However, one cannot ignore the factor that compulsive buying disorder can also be considered as inherited. Parents that display compulsive buying disorder or patterns, children tend to follow the suit. Another aspect to notice is, many parents tend to over indulge their child in material things under term of reward, this creates a habit among children of rewarding oneself again and again and can later manifest into buying pattern of repetitive purchasing. Consumerism continues to prevail among the society. A new process as emerged i.e. buying the product, using it, discarding the product, then purchasing more products. With over exposure of advertisements and consumption, many believe it to be the ticket to gratification and happiness. Boundy (2000), “For many compulsive spenders, money and material goods have replaced the church, community and family as the entity around which life is organized. The mall has become a temple to be visited almost daily, and shopping a comforting ritual”
What is the reason for customers to purchase or shop beyond their methods? Faber and his partners found that possessiveness was not a factor that drove consumers to compulsive buying. Their investigations demonstrated that purchasers’ self-sentiments and relational connections regularly set off their compulsive spending; for instance, a key inspiration for compulsive purchasing may well be to defeat negative feelings and attempt to feel better for a short period of time (Faber, 2000). Dittmar and her partners (2000) contended that compulsive buyers tend to trust sutomer products, as they were a critical course toward progress, personality, and happiness than were customary shoppers. They likewise trusted that compulsive purchasers bought buyer merchandise, particularly garments and adornments, to support their mental self-view by drawing on the emblematic implications related with items to connect the holes between how they saw themselves (genuine self) and how they wished to be or to be seen (perfect self). They directed three back to back investigations to test their new social mental model of over the top purchasing. They found that rash and over the top purchasing could be anticipated specifically from a person’s self-disparities (between genuine self and perfect self) and materialistic qualities.
Millions of consumers especially in America are suffering or almost at the risk of compulsive buying. Faber and O’Guinn (1992) estimated that 8.1% of the general population could be classified as compulsive buyers or are at risk of becoming compulsive buyers. Using a more conservative criterion of a probability level of 0.95, the estimate will be 1.8% of the population or 18 individuals in a thousand. Other scholars have estimated that about 2% to 8% of the U.S. population is more vulnerable to compulsive buying disorder (e.g., Black, et al., 1998; Hirschman, 1992).