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Conspicuous Consumption

What’s Conspicuous Consumption?

Conspicuous consumption is the purchase of products or services for the specific purpose of demonstrating one’s wealth. Conspicuous consumption is a way to reveal one’s social standing, especially when publicly exhibited goods and services are too expensive for different members of a individual’s class. This sort of consumption is typically linked to the wealthy but may also apply to any economic class.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Conspicuous consumption is a phrase coined by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen.
  • Conspicuous consumption can be applied to luxury goods which may be recognizable as a luxury, expensive product.
  • Tech, automobiles, and clothes can all be examples of things associated with conscious consumption.
  • Conspicuous consumption is often done to demonstrate a particular social status or class.
  • While this sort of consumption is often related to wealthy people, anyone from any economic course might be a conspicuous consumer.

Knowing Conspicuous Consumption

The term was coined by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen in his 1889 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class. This sort of consumption was considered a product of the growing middle class throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This group had a more substantial proportion of disposable income to spend on products and services which were generally not thought of as necessary.

The notion of consumerism stems from conspicuous consumption.

Cases of Conspicuous Consumption and Product Choice

Conspicuous consumption is exemplified by buying goods exclusively designed to function as symbols of wealth, such as luxury-brand labels on clothes, high-tech instruments and toys, and vehicles.

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Smartphones and Other Tech

By way of instance, while there are various kinds of high-end smartphones on the market from major manufacturers, specialty smartphones made strictly as luxury items also have been produced.

All smartphones effectively give the identical core communications characteristics, with applications and apps installed on them, supplying much performance. But, designer smartphones are available from such luxury brands as Bentley and Lamborghini. The hardware within the telephones will nearly always be the finest available, but what often sets these smart phones apart are the outside casings, which might be made from ceramic, leather, or granite. The notorious Black Diamond iPhone, priced at $15 million, was a top of the line iPhone 5 encased in gold, encrusted with gems, and comprised a black diamond.1

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Supercars

Similar might be said concerning the limited edition, high-performance supercars made for speed and visual appeal but have little practical use. Such vehicles, from manufacturers like McLaren Automotive and Bugatti Automobiles, are made in small batches and easily cost more than $1 million every single.2

The top rates of supercars typically can’t be legally or safely achieved on many streets. Ownership of these vehicles may be an expression of conspicuous consumption because the full capacities of supercars can scarcely be experienced–even by the proprietor.

Special Considerations

It may be argued that making such a purchase has some assurance that the consumer will have the best available device in their possession. But far less expensive versions of the same apparatus are also available on the market. Procuring such products primarily intends to induce a conversation around its acquisition and how the owner could afford to make such an extravagant purchase.

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