The Psychology Behind Luxury Purchases: Is High-End Hunting Gear Worth The Cost?
It’s estimated that Americans each spend around $1,800 on clothing annually. As a capitalist nation, we have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of competitors that offer different brands and styles. While that ability is great if you’re focused on finding the best deal, it can have an odd impact on us psychologically (and, down the road, financially).
As more luxury goods have become available, people are forgoing rationality to purchase items that are far outside of their price range — even when it comes to something as practical and mundane as hunting boots and fishing waders. Let’s find out what’s driving these brand-name trends so steadily onward.
The Mind-Wallet Connection
For starters, no one can deny that luxury goods are usually of better quality due to the fact that more expensive materials were used in their making. However, that only makes sense up to a point; after all, how different could $200 leather boots and $700 leather boots really be? One of the staples of luxury branding is that it is inherently considered better than its everyday contemporaries, regardless of whether or not that fact is actually true. Take Apple: despite its competitors offering higher quality products and at lower price points, the tech company has convinced the world that owning an iPhone will always be better than not.
Additionally, there are often self-esteem or self-confidence issues at play. A recent study published by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reported that low self-esteem will encourage a person to buy luxury goods that they may not be able to afford; if you’re trapped in institutionalized poverty or are living paycheck to paycheck, the comfort of a luxury item can go a long way — or provide a sense of belonging. You may be in debt after purchasing your new iPhone, but at least you won’t be the only one without the luxury phone.
Authenticity carries weight as well; you have to have the real product, and not just an imitation, even if they both play the exact same role. Good branding is often responsible for this reason. Company logos, from their design to their color, can impact a person’s interpretation of quality. Color has actually been proven to increase brand recognition by 80% (what color do you think of when you picture Louboutin shoes?), and logos speak volumes with little effort. From the Apple apple to the crossing C’s of Chanel, people get sucked into the brands they know.
Practical Vs. Luxury
Luxury goods are almost inherently impractical: high-end leather needs to be handled with the utmost care, brand-name watches rely on the expertise of a watchmaker for repairs, and luxury sneakers are never allowed to get dirty. The idea that clothing designed for practical use — such as hunting or fishing gear — could never truly fall into the luxury category seems logical, and yet certain brands are still available for the huntsman with deep pockets.
An average pair of fishing waders can last around three years and only cost around $100; a pair from a luxury brand like SITKA Gear can run you nearly 10 times that amount. At the end of the day, the choice is up to you. Your high-end raingear may be made with better materials (or simply carry that desired logo), but there could also be other things you want to spend $700; once you know your motivations, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether or not to go through with the purchase.