Why do people buy an excessive number of luxury brands and spend so much money on these items? Not only rich people, but amazingly poor people save money to buy a branded handbag or a pair of boats.
For instance, I happen to know a lady who earns $1,500 per month and bought a bag for $5,000. Why?
Since I believe one of the biggest social problems this century is improper distribution of goods and services, I have observed the buying patterns of different nationalities for many years.
Many of us want to feel ourselves special. No matter whether you are rich, poor, young or old, you want to be treated as someone special. It is a basic psychological state of human beings. In addition, many people want to prove to the outside world that they are different and important.
This pattern of behaviour mainly occurs when an individual is not really fully satisfied with their friends, their work, their own intellectual capacity or even how they spend their life. On top of that, if that individual feels that they are lagging behind their peers, many could choose to reduce the gap by showing off through luxury brands, luxury holidays or material stuff such as cars.
Actually, much of our surroundings is just a sense of feeling, and everything is psychological.
Of course, there are reasons behind this pattern of behaviour.
- If a person suddenly gets rich and if they come from an underprivileged background, they may tend to exaggerate to get attention. All of a sudden, something (money) has become the only thing to get attention. Before, there was nothing to differentiate them, and they think now they have everything (money!) to get attention.
- When they are not sure how long their wealth will hold out and they want to make the most of it by showing off. This happens mainly in emerging market economies, where governments choose some people to get rich. In other words, these people have not really achieved anything: they are simply chosen, and sadly they are unaware of it.
- Everybody tries to establish a social status in their community. Whether you are rich or poor, you want to be respected. Here is my explanation as to why a poor person who should not buy that $5000 bag buys that bag—because they think they will be treated like rich people. They actually think that they are closing the gap between themselves and others! Actually, they are opening the gap even further by becoming poorer.
- Last but not least, another reason is these people do not have anything better to do for themselves—and, more importantly, for their communities. Since intellectual capacity/ability is built over years, it takes time. As human beings, we take the easy route to earn respect.
I find distinct similarities between people who try to feel good and gain status through excessive buying of luxury goods and people who get married to very beautiful ladies with no education and proper life, or to fat ugly gentlemen with a lot of money.
In the end, the relationship is very artificial and does not survive in the long term.
Moreover, an institution such as marriage should create happiness, but in the end, this type of relationship only creates miserable and unhappy lives.
I personally adore those people who are respected in their communities for their knowledge and their own unique characteristics rather than for what they own. A family friend in London taught me several years ago that my wealth should not be my car and what I wear, but it should be my own intellectual capacity.
A Turkish foundation, Darussafaka, is currently running an excellent advertisement on Turkish TV channels. The title is “You can still survive without it”. A lady goes to a shop and likes a bag; a businessman goes to another shop and likes a pen; but they both say “I can still survive without it”. Then the ad continues that you can survive without many things, but not without the proper education of our children.
I want to make it clear that this article is not about criticizing any type of behaviour or a certain type of person. It is solely written according to my own personal observations. It is purely an attempt to produce an amateur socio-economic article.
In addition, I too occasionally enjoy buying some branded clothes and shoes—hopefully, though, not excessively.
I hope this article leads you to contemplate whether you overspend on luxury brands and perhaps encourages you to channel some of that spending into education or the other basic needs of the many.
All the best from Singapore.