Newism: Because the “new” has never been hotter

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Claudia Vazquez buying a new nail polish. (SMU/Abril Murillo)

She knows exactly what aisle she is looking for. She goes through the doors and turns right to aisle number 3. For someone who doesn’t use beauty products it would take a great amount of time to find the nail polish, but not for her. Thanks to the TV commercial she remembers the colors and the shape of the box.

“I know some people are obsessed with new technologies, but not me. I only care about make-up. If it’s new… I must try it, I just can’t never resist,” said Claudia Vazquez, while the new collection of a nail polish brand was getting most of her attention.

Vazquez is not the only consumer attracted to new products. Actually, consumers have been so attracted to the “new” lately that experts have identified this as a trend called newism.

Newism is defined on the website trendwatching.com as the increasing demand of consumers for new and exciting products. This trend has led to a consumer world that is now creating new products, services, and experiences on a daily, if not hourly basis.

However, since there is no way to know exactly when newism started, some people argue that maybe consumers were always attracted to the new, and the only thing that is new about it, is that we have just started to realize it.

David Mattin, a newism expert, said, “Of course, consumers have always been excited by the idea of the ‘new’, so the idea that the new is important to consumerism is an established one.”

The trend has become more evident because of online access. “The internet has reduced barriers to entry for innovators, has made it possible for innovators and entrepreneurs to launch an endless stream of new products and services that really are better than anything already out there,” said Mattin.

Also because of the Internet, the fear of trying something new and unknown has decreased thanks to polls, reviews, ratings, and discussions.

Whether consumers have always been attracted to new products or not, it is a fact that the options for products and services increase rapidly. The World Intellectual Property Organization reported that 2 million patents were applied for in 2010, up from 1.4 million in 2000.

Last year, China alone granted about 1.2 million patents for innovations, and about 480,000 new companies were registered in the UK.  According to trendwatching.com, Apple adds about 19,000 new applications to their store every month, and Kickstarter successfully crowdfunded 18,000 projects in 2012.

Something that must be mentioned is that the concept of “new” varies from person to person. Mark White, an employee of a bookstore for over 20 years, said that the definition of new varies for his clients.

“I understand what newism is, but I must say “new” is different for everyone. I have my regular customers. Some of them flood the store when their favorite author has published a new popular novel. Then, there are my other customers who come here often looking for something new to read, which sometimes is a book that was written in the 50s,” said White.

Age is one of the factors that can change what “new” means. Bilel Kaddour, who works at a technology store, explained how he has seen that in some of his customers.

“I see young people, you know, the ones that usually visit technology stores. But then I see another group that I like to call the “Cool Grandpas.” You see, they were introduced to the Internet late in their careers. Now they are retired, and with all the free time they have, they surf the Web and find all sorts of old sites that are new for them,” Kaddour said, “Then they come in here asking for the “new product” from the cool advertising that we know is not new, but it is for them.”

For Vazquez, advertising also plays a huge role in her craving for a new make-up product.

“They are just so colorful, and cool, they make the product seem very appealing,” said Vazquez.

Jerry W. Thomas, who wrote the article “Advertising Effectiveness” for decisionanalyst.com, argues that only about half of TV commercials actually work; that is, “have any positive effects on consumers’ purchasing behavior or brand choice.”

However, Thomas is forgetting that most of the ads nowadays that young people watch are online, where everything is faster, creating an acceleration and amplification of information, excitement, and attention.

Mattin agrees that newism and the Internet are correlated. “Newism is more established in mature markets, where online culture is more established, and has planted deeper roots in consumer culture,” said Mattin.

“Though we do have to be careful not to adhere to out of date views on what counts as a mature market, or a ‘first world’ market. Look at the insane pace of innovation and the thirst for a constant stream of new products that we see in China, or Brazil.”

Despite the lack of an exact date of the beginning of newism, experts such as Mattin are sure that newism is not fading like other trends. On the contrary, as the attention span of the population becomes shorter and shorter, newism, which is another way of celebrating innovation, becomes more popular.

Products and applications such as the popular social drawing and guessing game, “Draw Something,” which had 35 million users in just six weeks, will lose users at about the same rate because they will want to move on to try something new.

It’s necessary to remember that newism is a trend, and just like every other trend, it is not universal. Some people like Vazquez won’t be able to resist and will buy that new nail polish just to try it, and there will be others who will keep their old one and even after it is over they will still buy the same one if available.

Vazquez is sliding her credit card as she pays for the nail polish she came to buy and two more products she wants to try.

“I have mascara, but it did not work as well as the one I had before from the same brand, so, I’ll buy these two new ones and try them,” she said.

Hundreds of new and old products available to consumers at a retail store. (SMU/Abril Murillo)

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