Trend Of Market Virtualization: Emergence Of External Image And Cultural Value In Products – Analysis


By Yang Xite

In the recent article “The Obscured Destiny of the Global Automobile Industry” by ANBOUND’s founder Kung Chan, there are some discussions on the concept of market virtualization. The article points out that market virtualization is an increasingly important topic in today’s economy, where market demand has become more and more virtualized.

In a society with surplus capital, people have the means to purchase goods, but these purchases are often motivated by the desire for social status and to fulfill the desire for consumption comparison rather than to satisfy objective needs. Consequently, there will always be people who follow vain design concepts. Tesla’s success serves as a prime example of this phenomenon.

The development of the internet and social media has made market demand unpredictable in this era of surplus capital. The ease of communication and sharing of ideas and experiences across the globe has further promoted the virtualization of market demand. This virtualization has profoundly influenced not only the production and sales of goods but also consumer behavior. ANBOUND researchers believe that a major characteristic of market virtualization is that consumers are no longer pursuing material goods for their inherent value, but rather for their symbolic value in fulfilling their vanity. When purchasing goods, consumers are essentially buying into certain statuses, values, and identities that these goods represent. Therefore, consumption is no longer solely about fulfilling needs but has become a cultural phenomenon, shaping both self-identity and social status. In the process of market virtualization, the actual utility value of goods is replaced by their symbolic value. This means that when purchasing goods, consumers are more focused on the meaning that these goods represent rather than their actual functions. This kind of consumer behavior has resulted in a consumerist culture, where consumers express their personality and social status through their purchases.

Luxury consumption is closely tied to market virtualization, where the value of luxury goods is not only based on their practical functions, but also on the social status and identity they represent. To consumers, luxury goods signify high quality, prestige, and social status. These symbolic values have become the primary driving force behind purchasing luxury goods. Moreover, luxury consumption is heavily influenced by comparativeness, with consumers buying luxury goods to compare their social status and identity with others. According to researchers at ANBOUND, owning luxury goods has become a necessary way of displaying one’s identity and status in certain social groups, and consumers buy them to demonstrate their superiority. Therefore, the symbolic value of luxury goods has become one of the main reasons for their consumption, and this symbolic value is also a manifestation of market virtualization, where the goal is not just to meet actual needs, but to display social status and identity.

However, the trend of market virtualization is not solely reflected in changes in consumer behavior. In a society with surplus capital, enterprises need to continually innovate and alter their image to attract more consumers. This has resulted in many companies focusing on the external image and cultural value of their product design and production, rather than solely on their practical value. As a result, many companies place more emphasis on packaging their products as cultural symbols, rather than mere commodities. Another aspect of this trend is that companies focus more on creating ostentatious design concepts. These designs are not intended to meet objective needs, but rather to fulfill consumers’ comparativeness and vanity. The limited edition products frequently launched by some high-end luxury brands serve as a typical illustration of this. These limited edition products have no practical value, but due to their limited quantity and high price, consumers flock to purchase them. This is driven by consumer recognition and the fetishization of brands and products.

Market virtualization is evident in the ways consumers purchase goods. The internet and social media have made online shopping more convenient and selective, promoting the development of market virtualization. Consumers can easily search for goods on various e-commerce platforms and make choices from them. Additionally, social media allows consumers to learn about new product releases and events related to them, making it easier to make purchasing decisions. The development of virtual reality technology has also contributed to the development of market virtualization, allowing consumers to experience various goods and services in the virtual world, which helps them better understand the external image and cultural value of products.

The emergence of market virtualization has significantly impacted the way goods are produced and sold. However, this trend has also created a number of issues. Firstly, there has been a shift in focus from the practical value of goods to their external image and cultural value, which has resulted in many products being overly superficial and lacking in practicality. Secondly, the virtual market has made it easier for consumers to be swayed by advertisements and brand names, causing them to overlook their actual needs. As a result, consumers may end up purchasing a plethora of unnecessary goods, potentially leading to the waste of resources.

Final analysis conclusion:

Market virtualization is a trend that cannot be overlooked in today’s economic and social development. In a society with surplus capital, this development is facilitated by external capital conditions, where commodity prices and profits are no longer established solely on commodity quality, functionality, and services. With the popularity of the internet and social media, the market is no longer just for meeting consumers’ objective needs, but more attention is paid to the external image and cultural value of commodities. It remains to be observed if society will eventually move beyond the objective phenomenon of market virtualization and back to practicality-based consumption.

Yang Xite is a researcher for ANBOUND


Anbound Consulting (Anbound) is an independent Think Tank with the headquarter based in Beijing. Established in 1993, Anbound specializes in public policy research, and enjoys a professional reputation in the areas of strategic forecasting, policy solutions and risk analysis. Anbound's research findings are widely recognized and create a deep interest within public media, academics and experts who are also providing consulting service to the State Council of China.

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