Think a Bit Thursday: We Buy Social Status

So I have come upon the realization that you and I don’t buy cars or watches or phones because we need them. We don’t need sports cars. We don’t need to have the time on our wrists. We don’t need smart phones. But we buy them anyway. Why? Because we’re not buying transportation or time or communication. We’re buying social status.

Take a look at the cars below. What’s the difference between them?

There is no difference other than the reactions that the cars will yield and the impressions they give off. The Corolla can get one to their destination flawlessly, just as the BMW can. But the BMW will have people on the streets turn their heads and think: ‘This guy is pretty well off.’ The Corolla will be ignored and looked passed. What’s the difference between these watches?


The first watch has two functioning hands, just as the second watch does. One would be able to adequately tell the time with either of these two watches on their wrist. The first isn’t going to get many looks or glances. The second, however, will spark interest and envy in the hearts of others. The last of our examples, let’s take a look at these two phones.

They both have the ability to output and receive calls. The iPhone has a plethora of specs, but it really all comes down to the intention of the item. Phones are for calling. Some people, however, invest a large sum of money to purchase that BMW above over the Corolla. Some choose to purchase that G-Shock rather than the “crappy watch.” Some invest in the iPhone rather than the Intensity II.

That’s alright with me. People have every right and obligation to spend money for leisure and for nice things. My point here isn’t that we don’t need iPhones or BMW’s. My point is that we buy social status. We don’t buy a watch, we buy watches that higher our social status. We buy cars not for their performance, but for the attention.

Think of things that you’ve purchased recently. Maybe a set of Dre Beats? A new picture frame for your house? A skin for your iPhone? When you and I purchase these things, we buy them (typically subconsciously) with the intention of impressing somebody or a general populous of people. We buy things with the hope of being thought as being higher due to the item. If your house looks better and is filled with nice things, you are aware and hopeful that your guests will think that you are better off than you, perhaps, are.

Is this a bad thing? Of course not. Indulge, buy nice stuff, and enjoy.

Just reflect on what you’ve recently purchased and why. You may be surprised.



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