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What is Conspicuous Consumption?

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

What?

Conspicuous Consumption can be referred to as a practice of purchasing goods or services that serve the purpose of displaying one’s wealth, more than their practical usage.

The purchase can either be of buying something luxurious or buying more than the actual need.

The word ‘Conspicuous’ here means lavish or unnecessary spending and hence the concept came into being.

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Make it easier, please?

Have you ever seen a famous Bollywood actor drive in a Maruti car?

Never.

Why?

Is it because they think the car is not good?

Maruti is the market leader in its segment, so obviously, this cannot be the reason.

So what is it then?

It’s the status quo that’s attached to a Range Rover or a BMW as against a Maruti car.

This is what the famous personalities aim for when buying a product.

The simple purpose that a car provides is transportation, however, when it comes to Conspicuous consumption, the motive is not to explore the purpose of utility, it's beyond that.

The concept is not restricted to only famous personalities or just people who possess a lot of wealth, there are even those who do not earn as much, but would still prefer to buy an I-phone instead of any other phone.

Why?

While they won't accept it openly, but it's not about features, its about peer pressure, “I wish to be seen as someone who owns an I-phone in my group of friends”.


Reasons?

The theory is based on the simple premise that people tend to own luxurious goods to show superiority over others who do not own them.

This is directly linked to the insecurities that individuals possess when they believe that their material possessions can define their image in the eyes of others.

The reasons behind Conspicuous consumption can be broadly divided into two groups:

a) Economical

When you are a part of the affluent society, you need to ensure that your buying patterns or product usage is in sync with the rest of the people within your society.

b) Psychological

There is this innate belief that most human beings possess, that quality and price have a direct relation.

And psychologically you tend to believe that if the price is higher, quality would be better too.

You also want to be associated with this image of belonging to a superior class, so superior goods become a part of the same.


Brand Examples?

Advertising plays a major role in promoting the concept of conspicuous consumption. This is because it all depends on how brands wish to position themselves in the mind of the consumers.

Various luxury brands, across categories, can be considered as examples promoting this concept.

Be it automobiles- BMW, Rolls Royce, etc.

Be it fashion brands- Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc.

When a brand is promoted with the ‘luxury’ feel attached to it, many people want to associate themselves with it because they feel it’s their way to achieve a positive image in front of others.

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