The allure of luxury goods and services has been a constant as it can attract anyone through its promotion of an aspirational image. Though most of the time the demographic of the population that forms the major part of the targeted consumer segment are those that although focused upon the products along with that also uphold the values of exclusivity and status. The psychology of these luxury consumers is a fascinating study that involves the principles of biological drives, socio-psychological factors, and societal structures.
The tension among these three creates an overall drive toward consumeristic behavior. The forms of luxury also are a factor to be taken into account when talking about the luxury consumer. The traditional forms of luxury where consumption of goods and services are the key aspect, the non-traditional forms of luxury are those that are not for consumption but are the investment that are obtained by the existing conditions of luxury to further elevate and solidify the luxurious position of the consumer.
Although the primary focus of the article is on the psychological consequences, both the positive and the negative involve the social, economic, and psychological consequences of the consumer’s actions that further gives insights in societal dynamics, human behavior, and aspirations.
The psychology of a luxury consumer needs the context for the motivations of a luxury consumer and the reasons behind this label of luxury. They include-
1. The Status And Symbolism Of Luxury
The very association of luxury is with high social status and success from the beginning of time. The luxurious items signify and communicate the achievements and identity of a person to others. They are also the visible symbols of societal designations and are seen as aspirational.
2. The Allure Of Exclusivity
The fundamental concept of more demand and less supply, creating even more desire for the item is key. The scarcity of luxury creates exclusivity as only those can obtain it who have a certain value to them and usually, that value is of economic success.
3. The Rush Of Emotions
Luxury purchases are often emotional in nature rather than practical. The rush of pleasure is in focus rather than the utility of the item. The gratification from a luxury purchase is the result of feelings of accomplishment, excitement, and anticipation.
4. Self-expression Through The Identity Of Luxury
Luxury consumers associate themselves which particular brands as these brands identify themselves with a particular image and by association with these brands the individuals form an identity for themselves. All in all, a narrative about themselves but just through the filter of luxurious items.
5. The Experiences
It is without a doubt that the income of a person decides the lifestyle for them. The experiences obtained through money are seen as an investment toward the luxury of living. Here, luxury becomes not only a physical entity, but encompasses other aspects for a comfortable and diversified life.
6. The Matter Of Influence
Social influence because of peer groups, advertisements, endorsements, and promotion on various platforms creates this desire to join a group and feel included in a community or social circle.
7. The Cycle Of Hedonistic Pleasure
The rush diminishes over time and to maintain the same rush the quest for these luxurious acquisitions becomes a constant.
8. The Heritage Of Luxury
Luxurious houses that provide these products and services have a history to them that serves as a nod to tradition and nostalgia, creating an emotional connection with the consumers and therefore becoming loyal advocates.
Now, comes the psychological effects of luxury consumption on an individual
1. The Self-Esteem Of Luxury Consumers
Luxury is often associated with confidence and an already established sense of sense. However, the duality of the situation is that it is presented as a mask of confidence to get external validation but still lacking in internal self-esteem. Although luxurious items can give self-esteem a boost by presenting themselves as a physical manifestation of an individual’s accomplishments, they are not a substitute for genuine internal validation of self. As the lack of confidence is ever present it also evokes the sense of anxiety that chases after status. At the same time, luxury goods create a sense of comparison and unconsciously tie the concept of self with the societal standards of luxury. Along with that it also creates lack of authenticity in self and enhances the vulnerabilities in a person.
2. Narcissism Of Luxury Consumers
Luxury consumers are often plagued by an inflated sense of self, a need for high amounts of admiration. Although it manifests in various forms among the people. Narcissistic people often want to be associated with status and attention. The luxurious background becomes a perfect stage for them to validate their grandiose sense of self. The characteristics of low self-esteem are manifested through the association with luxury items to show a secure sense of self.
3. Identity Creation Of Luxury Consumers
Luxury consumption is a lot more than just purchasing the items, the integration of the image that the luxury house associates themselves with. These associations influence a person’s self-expression, resulting in a lack of genuine and authentic self-expression. The personal narrative designed by an individual might not align with their personal value creating an unconscious dissatisfaction with oneself. Furthermore, every person has their own version of an aspirational self and the luxurious purchases can help them achieve that but only from the outside portrayals. The embodiment of the aspirational self must be holistic in nature. Also, it is a common fact that social circles help to form self-identity and affluent circles with undertones of luxury might influence luxurious preferences that can create pressure and anxiety to maintain an image and a desire to fit in can create unnecessary tension in an individual.
4. Hedonistic Pleasure Principle In Luxury Consumers
Materialistic desire, along with pleasure and status-seeking, associates with luxury consumption. The initial euphoria of a luxury purchase heightened by the pleasure hormones often wears off and is quite temporal in nature. People often mistake emotional anticipation and excitement for emotional fulfillment, but they are not the same. The physical attainment of the item is not the complete experience.
5. Envy Among Luxury Consumers
Comparison becomes a regular guest with any sort of consumerism. However, with luxury consumerism, the aspirational context of it creates a negative spiral of feelings where the unavailability of an item creates a wound in the weak sense of self, and envy springs from that. And this envy creates a mission to obtain external validation, creating a negative impact on mental well-being.
6. Status Seeking Anxiety In Luxury Consumers
Luxury has an element of exclusivity to it meaning a societal marker in it. The status quo is often associated with luxury. When there is exclusivity and prime status is taken into account, a social circle is formed. Luxurious products are the visible signifiers of status, but the hedonistic treadmill of luxury creates a spiral where status anxiety stems from impacting the authentic values of a person.
7. Cognitive Dissonance In Luxury Consumers
Luxury consumption creates a roller coaster of emotions that leaves an individual perplexed and overwhelmed, along with that the discomfort that arises when the purchase or luxurious association does not align with personal values. The desire for luxurious excess creates a gap where the challenges and realities of life are not present. Justifications for opulent lives align and lessen the emotional burden of guilt.
The consumption of luxury goods showcases the complexities in an individual at various levels, including cognitive, emotional, and social levels. Understanding these complexities lead to flush-out reasons for the effects of luxury consumerism, along with enhancing the positive outcomes and developing strategies to combat the negative impacts.