On January 1st, 2019, Netflix released an original series that would impact households nationwide – “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Guiding eight different families through the ins and outs of tidying, Marie Kondo, with her adorably petite stature and gentle voice, was not only immensely successful in teaching the participants the joys of decluttering, but she also managed to capture the hearts of the nation.
The show follows Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and bestselling author, as she meets with and advises various Americans clients, teaching them, and the audience, how to organize and declutter. However, unlike many of today’s reality television shows, Marie Kondo’s KonMari method doesn’t simply offer a short-term solution for cleaning a house; rather, Kondo focuses on how tidying can be integrated into people’s lifestyles and emphasizes the happiness that you can derive from that integration. In her most iconic quote, Kondo asks the homeowners to only keep items that spark joy, highlighting the direct link between material possessions and mental health.
Aligning perfectly with New-Year’s-Resolution spirit, the series quickly went viral, with hundreds of thousands of tweets and search inquiries referencing the show and the quote, “Spark Joy.” People all around the country have been documenting on social media their KonMari-inspired tidying, and even celebrities, such as Stephen Colbert and Jennifer Garner, have joined in on the movement.
So what does the recent craze about clutter (or rather, declutter) mean? What does the obsession with Marie Kondo say about current culture?
In an ever-changing, intensely technological, globalized society, it can be easy to get lost in the fast-paced, volatile race that is daily life. As political, economic, and sociological boundaries become muddled and intermixed, it isn’t surprising that people’s homes have become messy as well. The KonMari method reminds us to pause and take a moment to evaluate our choices and take into account our true feelings. “Does this sweater make me happy? Do I truly need this magazine from 2009?” These are some of the questions that Kondo encourages us to ask ourselves.
That being said, what does this mean for marketers?
With the Information Age fully upon us, consumers are well-versed in the various advertising tactics that companies have used to attract them. We may even be reaching a point where consumers are so tired of the constant marketing that they reject “commercial” products altogether. So how do advertisers combat this? We look towards Marie Kondo for the answer. No matter the economic, social, or political climate, as long as something “sparks joy” for the consumer, companies can count on having a stable customer base. By focusing on what truly interests and motivates the consumer, companies can ensure that they remain an essential in people’s lives.