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Consumerism in 1920's America


Consumerism in 1920's America: Woodrow Wilson was the 28th American President who served in office from March 4, 1913 to March 4, 1921. One of the important events during his presidency was the rise of American Consumerism in the 1920s.

Definition and Summary of the Consumerism in 1920's America
Summary and definition:
The rise of prosperity of the United States in 1920 led to the emergence of American Consumerism in the period in history known as the Roaring Twenties. Consumerism is the theory that it is economically attractive to encourage the attainment of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.

American Consumerism increased during the Roaring Twenties due to technical advances and innovative ideas and inventions in the areas of communication, transportation and manufacturing. Americans moved from the traditional avoidance of debt to the concept by buying goods on credit installments. Mass advertising and marketing techniques via the 1920's newspapers and the radio saw a massive increase in sales via easy consumer credit.

American Consumerism 1920s Facts: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the American Consumerism 1920s.

What does Consumerism mean? Consumerism is the theory that an increasing expenditure on goods is economically desirable. American consumerism in the 1920's led to the preoccupation of the purchase of consumer goods

What is an example of Consumerism 1920s America?
An example of American Consumerism 1920s the purchase of automobiles. In the Roaring Twenties over 60% of Americans bought their automobiles on credit. Debt was not a worry - people believed that America, and the Stock Market, were invincible...

Facts about Consumerism in 1920's America
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Consumerism in 1920's America.

During WW1 (1914 - 1918) manufacturing, production and efficiency had increased through necessity in order to meet the demands of the war effort.

The new advances in manufacturing techniques, the factory system and the efficiencies of the assembly line were transferred from meeting military needs to the consumer goods industry and making commercial products.

Technology had advanced and the nation had entered the age of steel and electricity. Industries switched from coal power to electricity and most homes, especially in the towns and cities, were lit and powered by electricity.

The 1920's introduced Consumerism and Materialism to the United States with massive changes to lifestyle and culture. The Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age, became associated with modernism, consumerism, sophistication and decadence.

After an initial recession in 1919, middle class Americans moved to a period of  prosperity. Between the years from 1921 to 1924 the nationís gross national product jumped from $69 billion to $93 billion and wages rose by 22% from roughly $36.4 billion to $51.5 billion.

Access to electricity provided Americans with the power required to run new labor saving appliances and luxury products such as radios, phonographs, electric irons, refrigerators, washing machines, electric razors, vacuum cleaners and gramophones.

In the 1920'S America was beginning to prosper and new technology, mass production and labor saving devices gave Americans more time for leisure. They were able to enjoy a wonderful taste of freedom due to the introduction of mass-produced, cheap automobiles that revolutionized transportation in America.

The price of the standard Model T in 1903 cost $825. By 1924 a brand new Ford runabout could be purchased for as little as $260. By 1927 the Ford company was turning out a Model T every 24 seconds. From 1909 to 1927 over 15 million Model T Fords had been sold in America. For additional facts refer to Henry Ford and the Model T

Mass Production techniques, such as the introduction of the Assembly Line in factories, enabled massive quantities of products to be produced quickly and efficiently by an automated, mechanical process and reduced consumer costs.

The lifestyles of Americans were significantly effected by the availability of labor saving products, luxury items and the emergence of mass advertising campaigns and consumerism.

The consumer goods industry was not just restricted to the sale of automobiles and labor saving appliances and devices. Personal grooming items such as cosmetics, hair dye, mouthwash, deodorants, tissues, and perfumes were added to the ever-growing list of consumer products.

Consumerism in the fashion industry boomed. It was the era when the youth of America gained independence and the age of the Flappers. Young women were influenced by the glamorous clothes, fashion and styles of movie stars. Refer to 1920's Fashion for Women

The movie industry exploded in the 1920's. By 1929 an average of 100 million Americans went to the cinema on a weekly basis. Stylish movie posters, some hand painted reflecting the modern Art Deco style, advertised the newest movies to hit the silver screen.

Audiences of this vast size ignited the imagination of merchants and manufacturers with products to sell. The movies were one of the most important advertising mediums of the 1920's.

Magazines and newspapers picked up on the culture of consumerism and advertisers reached millions of people through advertising via this media.

Advertisers, reaching millions of American consumers on a daily or weekly basis, hired famous movie stars and sports celebrities to persuade Americans to buy all types of products from coffee to cosmetic products

Advertising changed the way that people prepared their meals with the new types of cookers. Glass cookware and frozen foods were also introduced in the 1920's.

Americans also changed the way they cleaned their homes with the introduction of vacuum cleaners and a vast array of domestic cleaning products. Advertisers used the fear of disease to sell their cleaning products and Americans purchased them to protect their families from horrible illnesses - they were reminded of the lethal 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic that had swept across the world.

Mass advertising promoted new products in the consumer society of America. Advertisers preyed on the fears and anxieties of Americans or promoted the qualities of the era such as leisure, convenience, fashion and style.

Radio, the first mass broadcasting medium, were also introduced in the 1920's was  that drew the nation together by breaking down provincialism. The  radio programs spread modern ideas and advertisements to millions of listeners. By the end of the 1920s there were over 100 million radios in use in America.

Radio Advertising became big business in the 1920's. In the 1928 presidential election campaign
networks sold more than $1 million in advertising time to the Democratic and Republican Parties. For more facts refer to 1920's Radio and Advertising.

Much of the new Consumer Society was built on easy consumer credit. Americans who were once "thrifty and prudent" they bought most of their more expensive goods on the installment plan, paying some money down at first, followed by 1 -5 years of monthly payments.

The great financial innovation of the 1920s, was the tremendous growth of Installment Plans, meaning buying on credit. Mass advertising reflected the general acceptance of buying by installment as a way to finance consumption.

Easy credit via Installment Plans saw a massive increase in consumer indebtedness, together with an equally dramatic decline in consumer savings

75% of the U.S. population spent most of their yearly incomes to purchase consumer goods including food, clothes, radios, and cars.

Ordinary Americans were building up high debts because of easy credit and started to gamble on the Stock Market, believing it was a 'safe bet'.

The excess of the 1920's and the Consumer Society ended abruptly with the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Share prices began to fall and $30 billion was lost in just two days.

The Total Consumer Goods purchased on Credit in 1929 was $7 Billion. Consumer Credit outstanding in 1929 totaled over $3 Billion.

The Stock Market crash led to the ruin of many Americans and was followed by the Great Depression. The Great Depression witnessed the end of the Consumer Society and consumerism in the 1920's.

US American History
1913-1928: WW1 & Prohibition

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