Keeping up with Joneses easier during recession, for the rich

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research investigates the spending behaviors of wealthy households during periods of recession.

Authors Wagner A. Kamakura (Duke University) and Rex Yuxing Du (University of Houston) write that “even when their consumption budget is unaffected by a recession, consumers will change their expenditure patterns because some of these expenses depend on social standards that shift with economic conditions.”

Specifically they find that during hard times, there’s a drop in the share of the household budget devoted to nonessentials like jewelry, furniture, recreation, and travel. Wealthy households could certainly afford these luxuries, but because much of the rest of society is cutting back, they feel less compelled to show off in return. “Keeping up with the Joneses is less onerous when they are not keeping up [themselves],” the authors conclude.

Whether or not the Joneses have been on your radar during these times of economic uncertainty, your spending on nonessentials has likely been affected.

You can learn about what kind of discretionary purchaser you are by taking the Experiential Buying Scale. Follow that up with the Motivations for Experiential Buying Scale to see what drives you to buy certain things.

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  • Vicky

    “All of the hype about wealthy consumers turning away from
    conspicuous consumption during a recession appears to come
    from self-reports and expert opinion, both of which appear to
    involve significant impression management.Who wants to admit
    they are turning it up rather than toning it down, or essentially
    showing off, when others are suffering? Our data support the
    notion that those who are still in the market for luxury goods
    (parvenus) still like the loud products and are willing to pay a
    hefty sum for them…”-

    From Journal of Consumer Psychology: