Riding the Gold Plated Lift

The election of Donald Trump has given us a timely reminder of the changing attitudes to conspicuous consumption[1].

Constant online access, mobile devices and the pervasiveness of social media had already established a new normal in the reporting and display of wealth. Something that for decades had abided by convention. But such traditions are disappearing as fast as a live stream of Emoji's

The new age of Trump has also appeared to establish a normalisation of unconventionally acquired wealth as proven by the Panama Papers to The Rich Kids of Instagram.

This paper aims to take a quick whizz around the world (in an App booked private jet of course) to look at today’s contrasting views of conspicuous consumption. For instance, in societies with extreme levels of inequalities such as Albania we see displays of visually loud, individualist sign posted symbols of wealth, whereas in similar economies of new growth such as Vietnam, where new wealth is much more evenly distributed the symbols of conspicuous consumption are more socially realised in the form of eating out or taking vacations.

China Daily posted a number of articles this year about the growing popularity of the imported concept of Valentine’s Day in China. In one titled ‘Valentine’s Day means celebration, not conspicuous consumption’ The paper highlighted the influence of American brands encouraging young affluent Chinese to spend more than 2,000 yuan (£232) on each other in 2016. The paper concluded that a festival established solely on business logic was not a problem of the holiday itself but of the people who celebrated it…

As the Guardian recently said it’s all about ‘..the drama of being conspicuous to one another, just without the consumption.’

Noun; Expenditure on or consumption of luxuries on a lavish scale in an attempt to enhance one's prestige.