This is a true story. I was at a bar my senior year of college when a girl approached me. “I LOVE your bag.”
“Thanks!” I was so flattered. “Guess what?” (I’m very friendly with strangers)
“What?” She was inebriated and willing to play along.
“I got it on sale for 19 dollars!” I was raised on bargain-hunting. If I can’t brag that I underpaid for something, I don’t want to own it.
“Ohhh…” She touched my arm. “You don’t have to be ashamed of that. My father told me I never needed to go to sales, but sometimes I do anyway.”
This was the first time in my life I realized that some people actually like spending money. Some people actually feel good about paying for things. And I’m not the only one to find this noteworthy.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology did a study and found that people enjoyed wine more when they were told it was an expensive bottle, even though there was no actual difference in quality. Reading about it in Beyond the Headlines, I learned that this is a phenomenon called “neuromarketing.” In other words, the marketing is so compelling it actually alters our sensual experience. We’re convinced we’re having a positive experience just because the commercial said we would.
To me, this is one sad, small piece of a society comprised of people who define themselves based what they own. Not only are expensive products automatically assumed to be good products, but expensive products are also automatically assumed to make good lives. “Luxury” items are available to everyone; especially with financing options. Living above one’s means no longer is a sign of risk, but a sign of prosperity. Unfortunately, as gruesomely evidenced by the subprime mortgage crisis, that doesn’t always work.
(You read right. I referenced the subprime mortgage crisis. Yes, I still majored in Philosophy. Yes, you should hold your applause until after the blog entry is over.)
Of course, because our Beyond the Headlines team is so comprehensive, there’s also an article addressing the flip side of the coin; there are some people who would prefer not to spend a lot of money. Imaginary spokespeople for my brother say there’s probably a happy medium.