[quote] WANTING TO BE SEEN
In a more recent experiment, we found that powerlessness creates a preference for displaying one’s brands: A state of powerlessness led consumers to prefer clothing with extremely visible logos. In addition, recent work by economists has found differences in visible consumption of items such as clothing, jewelry and cars among different ethnic groups. Blacks and Hispanics devote a larger percentage of their income to visible consumption items than do comparable whites. All of these results — ours and others’ — can all be interpreted as evidence that conspicuous consumption is designed to signal social status to compensate for being lower in the societal hierarchy.
HOW HIERARCHY AFFECTS CONSUMPTION
We have recently created a full model for how one’s place in a hierarchy affects consumption. Specifically, whereas being powerless orients individuals to what others think, feeling powerful focuses consumers on themselves. As a result, the powerful crave products that offer superior functionality and comfort — products that will make a difference to them, not others.