We had been dating for two months and found ourselves in Walmart in a desolate town outside of Pittsburgh, cruising down the aisles in our sweatpants.

Eagerly, we threw a bunch of items in the cart as we strolled down the fitness and beauty aisle. When we arrived at the food section, he rudely announced that groceries from Walmart were 'cringe.' I stopped dead on the way to the frozen food refrigerator and felt a surge of anger. Who was I really dating? And what's wrong with Walmart food? Weeks later, we would break up, but the socks he treated me to live on in my wardrobe years after.

Welcome to Lovers and Outlaws, a new series by Future Commerce exploring how our relationship status relates to how we buy, consume, and choose products. In today's world of endless options, our shopping preferences fall on a specific spectrum about who we end up with or are attracted to. How people shop in a world of social media influencing (or de-influencing, I'll get into this later) and massive amounts of advertising budgets allocated directly to specific archetypes, on top of the peculiarities of what makes people go nuts for certain types of face creams, will all be dissected like a science project on Bravo.

The Five Stages of Consumerism

It all comes down to brand loyalty, yet there are so many choices that it becomes a complex decision to figure out what face cream to use, let alone who to spend time with. One study found that 67.6% of US consumers will opt for a loyalty program, compared to 56% who will stick to the brand even if there's a price increase. This insight suggests that loyalty is essential to how people choose what they buy and, perhaps, who they date.

In figuring out people's weird decision-making process, I want to recreate the framework marketers have used for modern American consumerism. One aspect that stands out to me for our Lovers and Outlaws archetypes is the five stages of consumerism. Is how we pick our partners related to the product stage? In a world of loyalty points and discounts, does it matter more than just choosing a product because it's a dupe or expensive or to fit in with the quiet luxury vibe of your future partner? We've romanticized our lives to the point that we all have Amazon shopping lists from strangers who manage to influence us with our own lives, according to the following: 

  • Need Recognition
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Post-Purchase Evaluation

The Rise of Variety American Modern Consumerism 

Even with the economy at an all-time low with rising bank and mortgage interest rates unpredictably creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt, American consumerism is more competitive than ever; retailers have to be savvy about who they target and why. 

Take, for example, choosing to shop at Bed Bath & Beyond versus Costco. These two opposing behemoth retailers are notorious for attracting a particular lover and outlaw. One may be a family person shopping for a discount, the lover. The other may be a single person buying bed sheets. It's interesting. Bed Bath Beyond's recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy has caused many to analyze how this staple American department store could fail so miserably. My theory is that people should be aware of how they value their time and money. In light of the BBY store closing, a newlywed couple made newspaper headlines because the bride's dress was being "held hostage." If that's not enough, there are Reddit threads of former employees spilling the tea about why the retailer has been slipping for years.

When finding love, we're all looking for something different. And as consumers, we've been taught to believe that we deserve the best things in life—including what we do with our time and how we spend our money. This series will explore the relationship between brands, products, and people; and how our choices and preferences create symbiotic relationships regarding relationships, dating, and sex. Some of us are long-time brand loyalists, and the latter half can switch brands quicker than tapping "send" on an email.

Disclaimer: I'm single AF, and perhaps at the end of this column, I'll be dating someone with the same skincare preferences as me.