The Men Who Made Us Spend: Documentaries examine the truth behind consumerism

This weekend, led by Black Friday, is set to be one of the busiest times of the year for consumerism.

A US shopping tradition that falls on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has now been adopted by many other countries.

The shopping day, which now heralds in the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, makes as many headlines for human “bad behaviour” in retail stores over consumer goods than it does for its discount prices.

In a three-part BBC series, The Men Who Made Us Spend, investigative reporter Jacques Peretti laid bare the secrets of why people buy what they buy.

The series, first broadcast in 2014, investigates what keeps people hooked on spending, and confronts some of the men behind bestselling products and sales strategies that “get inside people’s heads”.

In the first episode, Jacques Peretti uncovers the importance of product lifespan – revealing how some products are still made to break, how fashion and aspiration are used by companies like IKEA and Apple to keep consumers constantly “upgrading”. You can watch this episode here.

Exploring the historical origin of planned obsolescence, when some of the world’s biggest electrical manufacturers formed a light bulb cartel in the 1920s, Jacques Peretti reveals how products that are essential to modern lifestyles are still made to break.

He also visits a recycling centre in the US where brand-new high-tech goods are destroyed before they have even come out of the box.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea


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