Status Consumption

Status Consumption

Status Consumption is buying products especially expensive things like luxury goods and services that are not necessary to one’s life, but only to show people and get noticed by spending money

The term “Conspicuous Consumption” was introduced by the sociologist & economist Thorstein Veblen to describe the behavioral characteristics of nouveau riche or the ‘new rich social class’ who emerged as a result of the second industrial revolution. The concept started in the early 1950’s when the nuclear families started buying over-sized houses for domestic dwelling. These people with some discretionary income started the trend of public display of social status by owning luxury goods and services as a means of publicly manifesting their social power and prestige, be it real or perceived.

Marketers in this new age take advantage of this phenomenon to promote their products and brands. Brands are advertised as status symbols which are made available at affordable or slightly higher prices so that you can show off these products by putting it some extra amount. Status consumption is most prevalent in the purchase of luxury cars and other luxury goods. There are various methods of promoting a product as a status symbol either by showing the peer pressure or celebrities, etc. in the advertisements to influence the consumers to buy products which are made essential to maintain their status and are not actually a necessity of life.

Status is a position or rank in a group or society awarded to an individual by others. Scholars distinguish three kinds of status:

(i) Status by assignment or definition (e.g. royalty)

(ii) Status by achievement (if an individual performs better at a particular job than others)

(iii) Status by consumption

We would focus on the third type of social status, which is acquired through possession. Products have symbolic significance and consumers acquire, own, display and use them to present an image of what they feel, think and are, to themselves and the society and to bring about the social relationships they wish to have.

Status Consumption is to seek or purchase goods or services, regardless of the consumer’s income level or social class, for the status they confer. Also it is incorrect to assume that conspicuous consumption is only a phenomenon with the rich and people of developed countries. This issue is also prevalent with the consumers in the third world countries who do not still have secured adequate for food, shelter and clothing. Thus Status Consumption can be defined as “The motivational process by which individuals, through conspicuous consumption of products that symbolize social status, try to improve their social standing in their surroundings and the society”. 

Status Consumption has only one dimension i.e. conspicuous consumption in a desire to improve or maintain status in the society. The satisfaction after purchase is not derived by possession of that product or service that symbolizes status, but by the wealth displayed in acquiring that product or service. These products or services that symbolize status in the society are not bought regularly but only when they can be displayed in a social gathering, not just to satisfy their material needs but also their social needs. Through status consumption, consumers try to impress significant others which may include their extended family, peers or seniors at work or other social connections. Individuals try to increase their brand value by status consumption.

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