Advantages Of Commercialization
What are the advantages and disadvantages of commercialization for an economy?
Interestingly enough, the word "commercialization" has both positive and negative connotations.
An example of this word in a positive connotation might be a small, at-home business which suddenly becomes well known and expands to an amazing level. The owner, who has been struggling after investing time, money, and energy for years, is finally realizing a dream. Money is coming in, people recognize the product, and sales are booming. This business has been commercialized, and it is a success.
At the same time, that small, at-home business has lost something. There is no longer the personal touch or the intimate working environment that the business once offered its customers and workers. This is when the word "commercialized" might be used in a negative connotation.
In the 1930s, the Appalachian mountain range now known as the Smoky Mountain National Park was stunningly beautiful and full of all kinds of flora and fauna as well as trees, of course. When the first lumber company came in to cut and sell timber, no one was concerned about commercialization and the negative effects of such a venture.
The country was beginning to clamor for lumber, and soon more than thirty lumber companies were working in the Smokies. While they were doing a necessary thing by providing lumber for the country and making money for themselves (advantages to commercializing this natural resource), they were also on their way to killing the mountain range. Trees were being cut and not replaced, plant, fish, and animal species were being decimated, and the greed for more profit created an environment of violence (disadvantages to commercializing this natural resource).
Fortunately, private citizens, the federal government, and John Rockefeller managed to purchase the land and preserve it as a national park. There are still vestiges of those lumber camps which can be seen once the foliage falls in autumn, but most of the nearly extinct species have been replaced and the forests have been restored.
Now another kind of commercialization has been happening in the Smokies, the most visited national park in the country. Hikers and campers pay for the opportunity to use the land but it is free for visitors to drive through and enjoy as they wish. This national park, like the others across the country, has managed to strike a balance between allowing some commerce (advertising and making money through various means) while still maintaining the integrity and resources of a beautiful and protected place.
This balance between the advantages and disadvantages of commercializing a place, a business, or even a city (such as Hershey, Pennsylvania, which has capitalized on its famous chocolate company) is difficult to keep. The risk is going too far, and it happens all the time. For example, the interstate system, while it made travel much easier for Americans, also created highly commercialized strip malls for convenience which completely circumvented the small businesses of many downtown areas in small towns all across the country.
Balance is the key, and balance is much easier to talk about than to achieve.
In general, the advantages of commercialization include the likelihood that a newly-developed product or service meets a genuine need or demand as determined by consumer surveys and purchasing data such as that produced by electronic scanners at check-out registers. “Commercialization” is a process involving every phase of a product’s conceptualization, design, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. Other than the marketing phase, it is a natural element by which supply meets demand and, consequently, is neither good nor bad; it just is. In some instances, especially with the advent of the personal computer, engineers and designers have actually been ahead of the market in anticipating demand where consumers never even realized a need existed. The process by which tablets, for example, the IPad, was developed is a case in point. Originally derided as a “blown-up” IPod, tablets became an enormously successful innovation and a ubiquitous presence in classrooms, boardrooms, and bedrooms. In a matter of a few years, tablets went from an idea without a clearly visible consumer base to a part of the daily lives of millions of people. The process of commercialization with respect to the IPad, in other words, created its own market niche, aided in no small part by Apple, Inc.’s reputation and clever marketing campaigns designed to highlight the devices’ functionality and portability.
Disadvantages of commercialization involve the creation of a demand for unessential luxury items the glamour of which can result in a degradation of public civility. Most individuals would agree that Nike, Inc.’s cofounder, Phil Knight, was a marketing genius with respect to athletic shoes and associated clothing items. Nike represents an enormous business success. Unfortunately, the cachet associated with Knight’s products, for example, high-priced basketball shoes marketed to a low-income consumer base, skewed many individuals’ sense of perspective and resulted in more than a few violent crimes when one youth or gang of youths decided to steal another youth’s Nike apparel. Nike certainly tapped into a lucrative market, but only to the degree that consumer financial resources were perverted for completely unessential purposes.
Commercialization can lead to the degrading of any process or celebratory season. When Charlie Brown derided the commercialization of Christmas and how the true, underlying spirit of the season was lost for want of material possessions, it took Linus’ quoting of the Gospel of Luke to remind all of his friends that the pursuit of wealth had robbed them of the meaning of the holiday. Not for nothing did Linus’ recitation of scripture resonate with many viewers, at least until Black Friday.
Here is one example which may serve to illuminate the advantages and disadvantages of commercialization:
In a location where there is a good-sized lake which supports game fish and is surrounded by forestland, commercialization of this area could certainly boost the economy of the area by the creation of a resort which would include cabins, motels, rentals of boats, fishing and recreational gear, restaurants, etc. Nearby towns would also profit from tourism as people would shop for food, eat out, buy gasoline, clothing, etc. as they pass through or during their stay at the resort. Also, new roads and bridges may be constructed, taxes collected, etc.
The pristine beauty of the area may be harmed as trees would be cut down, and commercial buildings constructed. The run-off of this construction and the use of motorized boats could place pollutants into the lake or nearby land, while the increase of traffic from tourism could add pollutants to the air from automobiles, not to mention causing inconvenience to residents on the roads because of congestion.
Another example comes from the commercialization of sports:
Without doubt, professional athletes enjoy lucrative salaries and added income from the endorsement of commercial products. The area in which a particular sports arena is located profits greatly from the influx of thousands of people who attend the sporting events throughout the season.
Too often young people admire sports figures who have less than sterling qualities. And, because of their prominence and high salaries in a materialistic country that measures people often by what they earn, sports figures are unrealistically esteemed for their opinions or impact upon society.
The obsession with a sport has often been the cause of interpersonal rifts and injury, as well. Sometimes, too, athletes suffer damage to their personal lives (i.e. lack of privacy and exploitation) because of their fame and commercialization of their names.
As health care is part of an economy, the current aging of America's baby boomers is bringing a dilemma to light which involves the commercialization of living communities designed for the elderly. With little current regulation of "assisted living" facilities versus the tight regulations for nursing homes, the commercialization of any place which serves seniors can add any tag without real standards in place. The advantage to this is that for families, there are many choices if there is a need for an assisted living facility for mom or dad. Often that need appears very quickly, and the search for a place that fits the situation used to be very difficult without so many new places coming into service. The disadvantage to this commercialization of "a place for mom or dad" is that with so little regulation or standards, you can get the situation which happened in a small town in MN where an 89 year old woman was raped by a man hired by the company to be an aide in the assisted living facility. Her accusation of rape was denied, she was kept in a mental health ward for several days, and treated poorly by the people who were supposed to be "assisting" her. Commercialization and the glitzy ads which show the amenities of "senior living" can have many advantages, but without regulations in place to achieve standards of care, the disadvantages of commercialization can be nightmares for families.
The word "commercialization" is generally used to refer to the process of bringing a new product onto the market. This process generally has many more advantages than disadvantages.
The advantage of the commercialization of new products is that it can push an economy ahead. When Bill Gates, for example, created and commercialized Windows software, the economy of the world was greatly improved. This led to large gains in productivity and to other benefits. Consumers tend to benefit from commercialization because they get a wider range of products that they can use.
However, the commercialization of some products can be harmful to some parts of the economy. This is particularly true when a new technology or product displaces an old one, leading to structural unemployment. This happened, for example, when automobiles took the place of horses and put all the people in various industries (bridle-making, stables, etc) related to horses out of business.