The rapidly unravelling American middle class has been super hard on big corporations. Who is going to buy their middle-of-the-road household products now that Americans are either mega wealthy or living in penury [in a van] [down by the river]? Nobody, that’s who, which means that corporations need to come up with a new strategy, a strategy that goes something like this: “Fuck the middle class. From now on, we make tampons out of silk and polar bear fur”
A recent report from NBC News chronicles the new trend in American consumerism to spurn the middle class consumer. Why, you ask, as you take advantage of the free wi-fi in the under-the-interstate tent village you live in now that the financial sector has conquered America? According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, the median household income fell to $51,017 in 2012, eight percent lower than it was in 2007. The average American household, in other words, is of less immediate interest to huge companies like Proctor & Gamble because the average American household has less purchasing power. Why bother making products for people in the middle class?
Instead of catering to the rapidly disappearing middle class, companies are catering to the very wealthy and the very poor by making either luxury or bargain goods. Simply adding the word “luxury” can mean a 20 percent markup on a consumer product, so Proctor & Gamble have developed a whole range of new “luxury” items like paper towels with a thread count of 1,000, premium ice cube spheres “individually carved from a 300 lb. block to ensure flawless quality and a zero-taste profile,” and, lest we forget humanity’s lingering reminder that the moon holds sway over the cyclical tides in our bodies, super-premium tampons that cost 59 percent more than ordinary tampons because they come in “designer packaging and wrappers.”
Can’t afford the super-premium tampon? That’s totally fine because, in the new American economy, companies will have an option for you, the discerning consumer, and that option will be of the lowest quality possible, really, just above a wad of banana leaves stamped with a P&G logo.