Why Do We Consume Luxury Goods, But Spend Little Time Enjoying Them?

It can be perceived that day by day, the number of populace investing in Luxury Goods/Services is cumulative. For example, if one was to observe posts on Instagram or Facebook, there would be an increasing number of designer handbags, luxurious meals and luxury cars to be seen. At the same time, it can also be observed that the usage of these products is significantly lower than depicted on social networks. So are people investing in luxury goods and services only for conspicuous consumption?

Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe investment into luxury goods and services in order to display wealth, or economic power. Veblen (1899) came up with this term when introducing his concept of Veblen goods, which Luxury goods and services fall into. Veblen goods contradict the law of demand. The law of demand states that an increase in price leads to a decrease in quantity demanded. However the price and quantity demanded of Veblen Goods are directly proportional; an increase in price leads to an increase in quantity demanded, and a decrease in price leads to a decrease in quantity demanded.

The reason behind this links once again to the concept of conspicuous consumption. Individuals wish to be seen purchasing expensive goods, in order to appear as wealthier, or stand out by being able to access goods which are not simply accessible for everyone. The use of social media enables individuals to do this as they simply take a photograph of themselves and/or the luxury Veblen good, and display it on Instagram or Facebook for everyone to see. This provides them with the economic power they desire. Social Media has also been a cause of this emerging trend, as it has allowed people to create ideas on how certain goods can give individuals a certain image, and so people can be investing in goods simply to post images of them on social networks, and obtain a certain image within society.

The concept of Veblen Goods and Conspicuous Consumption can therefore be used to explain why individuals spend a prodigious amount of money on luxury goods and services, but spend diminutive time utilising them. It indicates that individuals are more interested in portraying their economic power publicly rather than for their own use. This phenomenon also reveals why an increase in price leads to an increase in demand for these goods, individuals who are able to invest in Veblen Goods are an exception to the general law of demand, in a way that they are more economically powerful, so as a result, achieve their desire of Conspicuous Consumption. By Kainat Ali

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