Sociology Index

Inconspicuous Consumption

Inconspicuous consumption is a good philosophy and in contrast to ideas of conspicuous consumption based on display. In times of economic recession people prefer inconspicuous consumption, though they don't really want to cut back. In recent times of inconspicuous consumption, the true symbol of high status, is conspicuous non-consumption like the growing tendency of the super rich to dress scruffily. Being thin is also inconspicuous consumption that distinguishes the rich. Conspicuous consumption conveys the idea of a society where social status is earned and displayed by patterns of consumption. Modern American elites have come to favour inconspicuous consumption. Other related concepts to inconspicuous consumption include Veblen Effects and Counter-Veblen Effect. Expensive leisure goods that symbolize a wished-for self-identity or lifestyle are purchased by high-income earners with little leisure time, as in symbolic communications.

Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption
Berger, J. A., & Ward, M. (2010). Subtle Signals of Inconspicuous Consumption.
Abstract: The notion of conspicuous consumption (Veblen 1899) suggests that consumers spend lavishly on goods to that symbolize status and visibly communicate wealth and status to others. Analysis of multiple product categories, however, indicates an inverted-U relationship between price and the presence of logos or brand names: High-end products are actually less likely to contain such clear brand markers. Further, experimental studies show that high-end products which use more subtle markers are harder for observers to recognize, more likely to be perceived as cheaper generic equivalents, and less likely to be perceived as status symbols.

The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett.
Today’s upper class spends less on “conspicuous consumption” (jewelry, cars, clothes) and more on “inconspicuous consumption” (organic groceries, CrossFit memberships, labor-intensive parenting). “Caring about where things come from, supporting local farmers, making home cooked meals, investing in education rather than handbags are certainly more constructive and establish better value systems than the flashy consumer culture of the 1980s and early 2000s.”

Forms of inconspicuous consumption: What drives inconspicuous luxury consumption in China? Zhiyan Wu, Jifeng Luo, Jonathan E. Schroeder, Janet L. Borgerson.

Abstract: Inconspicuous consumption is on the rise, even in China, which has typically favoured conspicuous brand signalling. Research on luxury brands tends to focus on conspicuous consumption, and few studies have explored the ways in which Chinese consumers use Chinese luxury brands in inconspicuous ways.

How Chinese luxury consumers are redefining their identity projects, as well as their conceptions of luxury, in relation to inconspicuous consumption. We suggest that inconspicuous consumption encompasses consuming luxury products without overtly displaying wealth and social status.

Certain luxury brands enable inconspicuous consumption. Turning to a group of Chinese luxury brands offers insights into how luxury brands may fill this role for newly emerging forms of inconspicuous consumption.

Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have. - Tatiana Schlossberg – August 27, 2019.
"Inconspicuous Consumption is scary informative, in both senses, but also oddly enjoyable, filled with salty jokes and fun facts. If you're looking for something to cling to in what often feels like a hopeless conversation, Schlossberg's darkly humorous, knowledge-is-power, eyes-wide-open approach may be just the thing." ― Vogue.

"To solve the climate crisis, it is crucial that we address the problems in the way our democracy is functioning. In her illuminating book, Inconspicuous Consumption, Tatiana Schlossberg does just that by exploring how individuals, corporations, and governments are all contributing to this crisis, and how we need to work together to help fix it."― Former Vice President Al Gore.

Inconspicuous consumption facilitate the construction and display of one’s reflective identities, including privately fantasized identity, privately held identity and partially public reflective identities. Thus, we contribute to identity construction theory by explicating aspects of reflective identity and linking them to forms of inconspicuous consumption.

We expand upon recent research on inconspicuous consumption by demonstrating how inconspicuous consumption is manifested in China – the largest luxury market. The results help redefine constructs in the paradoxical situation of inconspicuous consumption of luxury brands, adding a layer of complexity to the inconspicuous consumption concept.

Inconspicuous Consumption - Work-Rich, Time-Poor in the Liberal Market Economy.
We illustrate different modalities of the practices of inconspicuous consumption and distinguish it from other consumption practices.

Inconspicuous Consumption: An Obsessive Look at the Stuff We Take for Granted, from the Everyday to the Obscure - Paul Lukas. In Inconspicuous Consumption the fetish value of the obscure and bizarre products that occupy the back shelves of supermarkets is explored in detail. The pleasures of sauerkraut juice and toothpick dispensers. From kitschy novelties and wildly unappetizing food products to beautifully functional items such as garlic presses

The rise of inconspicuous consumption
Giana M. Eckhardt, Russell W. Belk & Jonathan A.J. Wilson.
Abstract: Ever since Veblen and Simmel, luxury has been synonymous with conspicuous consumption. In this conceptual paper we demonstrate the rise of inconspicuous consumption via a wide-ranging synthesis of the literature. We attribute this rise to the signalling ability of traditional luxury goods being diluted, a preference for not standing out as ostentatious during times of economic hardship, and an increased desire for sophistication and subtlety in design in order to further distinguish oneself for a narrow group of peers.