Does anyone really need a 10,000-square-foot house, a $30,000 Patek Philippe watch, or a $500,000 Porsche Carrera GT?
The idea that we use purchases to flaunt our wealth is known as conspicuous consumption. It’s an accusation that we buy things not so much for purely personal enjoyment as for showing off or “keeping up with the Joneses.”
One way or another, we’re all conspicuous consumers. This phenomena has been understood since at least 1899, when Thorstein Veblen published his landmark book The Theory of the Leisure Class, but it has been exploited long before by sellers of various luxury goods all around the world.