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Playlist: Consumers and the Economy

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/85853333@N00/2949007270/">Jeremy Brooks</a>
Image by: Jeremy Brooks 
Curated Playlist

Ten pieces related to the role of the consumer in today's economy.

The Future of Retail and Business

From Smart City Radio | 58:54

Michael Malone, author of "The Future Arrived Yesterday," talks about the virtual workplace and what corporations might look like in days to come; and Larry Weeks and Daniel Aizenman from the design firm Commarts discuss the future of retail and the fate of the neighborhood mall.

Default-piece-image-1 The world changes at such a rapid clip, sometimes it's hard to put your finger on what exactly it is we're doing right now.  Michael Malone has taken that one step further in his new book "The Future Arrived Yesterday".  Michael will tell us about the virtualization of the workplace and what corporations may look like in the future. 

And as the workplace goes more virtual, our shopping habits have followed.  But this may not be the future of retail.  We'll speak with Larry Weeks and Daniel Aizenman from the design firm Commarts join us to explain the future of retail and what will become of your neighborhood mall. 

Retro Product Proves Recession Proof

From Todd Bookman | 03:46

For a lot of companies, innovation and IPOs have been sidetracked by cost cutting and layoffs. That’s part of what makes the survival of a New Hampshire company named ‘Sarah's Hat Boxes’ so unique: Their up-scale hat boxes seem more appropriate for an era defined by the Great Depression rather than the Great Recession.

Serendipity-hat-boxes-2334-p_small INTRO:  Few products are selling in this economy. Sure, iPhones are still moving. But for a lot of companies, innovation and I-P-Os have been sidetracked by cost cutting and layoffs. That’s part of what makes the survival of a company named ‘Sarah's Hat Boxes’ so unique. Based in Hancock, New Hampshire, their up-scale hat boxes seem more appropriate for an era defined by the Great Depression, rather than the Great Recession.

Virtual Goods Real People

From Andrew Davis | 06:25

Why are real people paying real money for products that only exist online? Virtual goods - selling avatars and all sorts of game-oriented trinkets and tokens - is a billion dollar market.

Picture_1_small Why are real people paying real money for products that don’t exist? And can this monetize networking sites? Jim Cosco gets to the bottom of it with Brian Balfour, the co-founder of Viximo.

Virtual goods - selling avatars and all sorts of game-oriented trinkets and tokens - is a billion dollar market. This holiday season, maybe you should consider buying your loved one a 'virtual good.'

Burning Man and the Gift Economy

From Making Contact | Part of the Making Contact series | 05:01

A "gift economy," the Burning Man festival allows no commerce. Larry Harvey, one of the festival's founders, explains how one of the most unusual economic structures in the world works.

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Theres no commerce allowed at Burning Man.  Its one of the most unusual economic structures in the world--a 'gift economy'.  Larry Harvey, the festivals founders, tells us how it works.

Sex, Evolution And Consumer Behaviour

From Barry Vogel | Part of the Radio Curious series | 29:00

How do marketers exploit our unconscious evolutionary desires for status and sexual attractiveness to sell us products? Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller explains.

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In this edition of Radio Curious we meet Geoffrey Miller, a tenured professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico, and the author of “Spent: Sex, Evolution and Comsumer Behaviour”. During our visit we discuss how our purchasing choices are driven by thousands of years of evolution, how marketers can take advantage of this and how we might try to better understand our ‘consumer’ instincts.

We spoke with Geoffrey Miller from his home in Australia on the 29th May 2009 and began by asking him to define his field of ‘evolutionary psychology’.

The book recommended by Geoffrey Miller is “The Life You Can Save: Acting Now To End World Poverty” by Peter Singer.

Consumer Confidence Explainer

From Rachel Ward | Part of the Economics Training Project series | 04:07

What is "consumer confidence" and how is it calculated and put into an index?

Default-piece-image-2 Consumer confidence for the month of July was flat - that is, consumers didn't lose hope completely, but they didn't get any more optimistic about the economy either. WXXI's Rachel Ward took to the streets of downtown Rochester to bring us this explainer, on how consumer confidence works.

Discounts and Sales

From Phil Mariage | Part of the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow series | 29:00

This piece compares attitudes across generations on issues surrounding discounts and sales, including pricing, haggling, and the history of big discount stores. With Atlantic writer Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of "Cheap - The High Cost of Disount Culture," and Nancy Levy, founder and director of the Senior Shopping Guide.

Ytt-300x300_small Author and Atlantic writer, Ellen Ruppel Shell discusses her new book, 'Cheap - The High Cost of Disount Culture' along with Nancy Levy, founder and director of Senior Shopping Guide. The older, middle and younger generations are consumed with buying at the 'Cheapest' price. This discussion compares the generational attitudes on many of the issues surrounding Discounts and Sales. Pricing, haggling, the big discount stores...all these are areas of discussion pointing to the strong grip on our collective buying here in the United States and for that matter the world.

Insurance Scams in Massachusetts

From Karen Brown | 03:31

When Massachussetts mandated that every state resident had to buy health insurance, some insurance companies took advantage of the new group of consumers by offering sub-standard health plans that don't meet the state's minimum requirements.

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IN 2006, WHEN MASSACHUSETTS MANDATED THAT EVERY RESIDENT IN THE STATE HAD TO HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, THE MARKET BLEW WIDE OPEN FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES. AND WHILE MOST OF THEM HAVE LEGITIMATE PRODUCTS, SOME HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF A NEW CONSUMER BASE THAT MAY NOT KNOW WHAT IT NEEDS OR WHAT IT’S GETTING.

This piece is part of an ongoing series, funded by a Kaiser Media Fellowship, on the Massachusetts health reform experiment.