Brand Names

The obsession with brand names

Take an industrial block of clay as an example: a 50 cent mixture of sludge, molded and processed into a dense slab of red, hard concrete. Slap a Supreme logo on any one of these, and just like that, your typical household building block magically transforms into the infamous $30 Supreme brick, which sold out within minutes of its release online.

Many shoppers would rather spend more money on the same product solely for the purpose of acquiring brand-name status. At first glance, it seems unreasonable that people are blindly spending more money simply for the benefit of a name. Sometimes, the only noticeable difference between a T-shirt from a department store and one from a high-end shop is the giant price gap. While most people claim that it’s the glamour and boosted confidence associated with wearing a certain brand that draws customers in, overpaying for a commodity that is available elsewhere at a cheaper price may be perceived as a wasteful act of self-indulgence. In addition, seeing others lavishly use their money may encourage a mindset that it is “cool” to overspend on things that are not necessarily practical.

So why do people still choose to indulge in these extravagant habits? For one, people often feel pressured by societal demands to fit in with popular culture. In a room of people who have Apple MacBooks, someone who has a computer from a different brand that is less notable can immediately feel like an outcast. Many people would rather spend more on an expensive product than fall behind on current trends.

Not all expensive purchases made from successful brands and products are filed under the category of “wasteful spending.” Whether it be clothing or technology, higher prices tend to indicate better quality. In this case, buying an expensive but more popular product from a well-known brand gives the customer a greater sense of security and satisfaction than if they had purchased a similar item from an obscure source. It’s as if pricey items eliminate the suspicion and fear of making a wrong purchase. After all, spending more money to buy a reliable, long-lasting product may end up being more worthwhile.

In the end, it’s the mentality of the customer that determines whether or not the purchase was worth the cost. It’s understandable when money is sacrificed for the sake of quality—but is it really worth it to buy a pair of $400 brand-name shoes when $50 is enough for comfort and style? When it comes to spending a good deal of cash, we should be more mindful and consider what we really want — status or quality.

By Jessica Huang, Production lead

Editorial cartoon by Jessica Huang