Sample Essay on how Conspicuous Consumption Influence Purchasing Decisions

Conspicuous Consumption Influence Purchasing Decisions

Conspicuous consumption is not a new term. It was first introduced in 1899 by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen. It is a theory based on the tendency of purchasing goods or services for purposes of proving to belong to a certain class or showcasing wealthy.

Think about some high priced items you just bought or intend to buy and the extent to which your decision is affected by conspicuous consumption. The term was initially used to refer to the rich who bought goods and services to show off their wealth and reaffirm their status in society. However, research shows that conspicuous consumption is not just something for the rich.

Low income individuals have also proven to spend a proportionally high amount of their income on luxury services and goods at times they spend even more than those in high income brackets. Examinations into consumer behavior have also proven low income earners spend proportionally larger percentages of their money on goods they don’t need.

Conspicuous consumption also plays a major role in influencing purchasing decisions.  This is because it takes on a special social meaning whenever an individual feels powerless when they compare themselves to other people in the society.


For instance, Hispanic women speaking English with Spanish accent might believe that people she meets will assume she is less educated and poor. Because of this, she might decide to purchase Louis Vuitton handbag or drive a BMW. She will do this even though she cannot afford it in order to prove that she is not as powerful as people might think. Conspicuous consumption makes it possible for people to purchase expensive luxury brands which tell the world that they are not poor.

Precisely for this reason, companies use conspicuous consumption to advertise products and services knowing fully- well consumers will buy them. Such costly goods and services will also appeal to specific segments of the population and especially those that can least afford them.

Conspicuous consumption is also a means of compensation for feelings of inadequacy hence, people who are poor or those from middle classes tend to purchase expensive jewelry to come off as wealthy individuals. Majority of those who indulge in this type of purchasing also end up spending more than they can afford hence failing to save.

It is because of reasons such as these that most people in society live poor lives. By buying costly services and goods, individuals are able to boost their confidence and personal power to the status of those who can comfortably afford buying the goods and services. Conspicuous consumption causes self threat as individuals build the desire for high status goods they can less afford.

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The Power of Conspicuous Consumption