Hong Kong became a British territory in 1842 after a spat over opium, although China got the land back in 1997. However, the special administrative region is still firmly British in terms of many ways of doing things. Woofoo Social Enterprise has been trying to convince the residents to adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
Woofoo Social Enterprise has not been having much luck, or so it seems from their recent survey. Its overarching goals are “promoting organ donations and sustainable living” according to South China Morning Post (SCMP). To some extent this means not hanging on to things we no longer need.
What Woofoo’s 2017 Survey Revealed
A normally reliable source suggests not much has changed since that survey. If anything, judging by recent protests Hong Kong still wants the future to be the same as the past. We were somewhat unsurprised to learn that just over half Hong Kong adults are compulsive hoarders according to SCMP.
Furthermore, 11% of survey respondents exhibited symptoms of compulsive shopping disorder too. Woofoo Social Enterprise polled 1082 residents aged over 18 across a period of 2 months and found the following:
- 30% owned 11 or more pairs of shoes
- 40% admitted to having 6 or more backpacks
The researchers felt the underlying causes of this hoarding and shopping disorder are (a) lack of self-confidence, and (b) inner emptiness and greed. Moreover, people with these traits also “tend to be procrastinators, indecisive, and have difficulty organizing or planning things”.
How the Woofoo Leaders’ Network Explains This
Michael Ma is deputy supervisor of the network. “We noticed some people shopping excessively and wanted to raise awareness of the issue,” he explains. “Society has also urged people to shop, which is one reason there are so many with oniomania (shopaholic disorder).”
Researchers Kellett and Bolton described oniomania symptoms in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. According to them, “compulsive buying is experienced as an irresistible / uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity”.
Negative emotions and poor self-concepts trigger a process that leads to gross social, personal and / or financial difficulties. Therefore we, at Avery Associates have to ask whether seeking occasional help at a clinic is an acceptable way of dealing with this painful situation.
Should We Place Some Blame at Retail Marketing’s Door?
The author writing in South China Morning Post raises the case of a 32-year-old factory worker. She keeps on adding to her collection of lipstick every time her work annoys her. “I prefer looking at them, not using them,” she explains.
Do you remember Michael Ma of Woofoo Leaders’ Network saying earlier, “Society has also urged people to shop, which is one reason there are so many people with shopaholic disorder”.
If what he says is true, then retail marketing has a case to answer for constantly pounding consumers with phone messages. How do they know their targets can afford their offerings, will benefit from them or indeed require them at all? Do you think consumer rights ever cross their minds … do they care at all?