Why Branding is a threat to the middle class

In theory as Globalization evolves resources will be allocated in the most efficient way possible ensuring that goods will be produced on the lowest cost basis to the benefit of all. In a perfect global system labour will shift around until the transition is complete and the rewards for labour will equalize around the global network. During the transition while wage rates in higher earning countries are frozen or rise slowly as wage rates in other areas catch up, those living in the higher wage countries will benefit from low cost goods during the transition. All of this takes place without impediments or barriers to free and open competition. Entrepreneurs will drive the progress by ferreting out opportunities across the global system.

In practice as we continue to embrace such a global system, the rewards to labour in the low wage countries are lagging while much of the benefit of low cost goods are not reaching the consumer. Instead the rich are becoming the super rich while the middle class is facing the reality of returning to an historical norm with relative rewards well below those achieved in the west for the past sixty years during which consumerism has flourished. In an evolving era of Big Data where the status quo is becoming a moving target while character traits such as adaptability and resilience are becoming more critical, the business behemoths of the world are getting richer by controlling markets. Much of this control stems from branding and creating the allusion that branded goods are inherently superior. At the same time effective marketing has mislead us that these behemoths are so critical that they are ‘too Big to Fail’. Branding has effectively created near monopolies effectively providing barriers to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs in the process by limiting their upside and increasing their challenges

Mammoth organizations operating on ten year plans are not appropriate for our fast paced Global economy. However control over markets allows them to achieve innovation and flexibility through outsourcing and acquisition. Oh these in themselves do create upside for entrepreneurs who can launch a startup and find an eager buyer for their initial success. However the odds against success are greater and fewer of us are likely to get there. It is certainly possible for a limited few to build new brands creating new members of the super rich club. However overall we have abandoned core economic principles such as the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Optimum Size of the firm in favour of uninformed consumerism and market control through brands owned and managed by what are effectively huge bureaucracies. Is there a tipping point ahead? Surely social media and instant communication are a threat to the dominance of brands – OR are they just additional instruments of control?

Globalization has brought large numbers into the global work force, increasing the supply of labour. Technology through robotics and mechanization is reducing the demand for labour. Together these factors create downward pressure on wage rates. Upward mobility for the individual is in decline. Capital is securing the lion’s share of the rewards. Job stability is one of the status quos that is disappearing. For all of these reasons the individual must become his or her own brand. The most important skill you can learn today is the ability to create and manage your career.

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