One of the most striking features of the current "Age of Austerity" is the growing need for authenticity in consumer habits. As household and discretionary spending undergoes a squeeze, people have been forced to confront their consumption and make real choices about what is important in terms of quality and quantity.
One of the more pleasing bi-products of this has been the gradual trend away from consuming for its own sake, in favour of buying fewer better quality items (something that has been genuinely the case in Switzerland for many years, and that a Frenchman would at least tell you was the case in France, even if it is more honoured in the breach...).
However, it's not enough just the recession that has brought this about. Even before 2007, the UK public were becoming increasingly concerned about issues such as food miles, seasonal/local produce, and ethical consumption. This catalysed the growth in regional food fairs, and initiatives like Cittaslow, making it increasingly possible for people to take a real interest in what they wear, what food they put on the table, and how they live their lives.
I'm currently rereading Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow, which more and more seems to make sense as a blueprint of how we can all live better, slower and more ethical lives. As the world staggers slowly towards what we can only hope are the broad sunlit uplands Mr Churchill was so enthusiastic about, maybe we do need to start thinking about what sort of society and structures we want to build to ensure that we don't fall into the same consumerist trap as before.