Suffering from a case of ‘luxury guilt?’

Marketplace Staff Oct 23, 2009
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Suffering from a case of ‘luxury guilt?’

Marketplace Staff Oct 23, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: I sure didn’t expect to see the spate of stories we saw this past week about, what I’ll diplomatically call, “conspicuous consumption.” The week began with word that Neiman Marcus had sold out of 50 limited edition Jaguars just four hours after they officially went on sale in the department store’s famous annual holiday catalog.

We checked with Pam Danziger, a retail consultant with Unity Marketing. And she assured us this kind of outrageous fortune is not the norm in these recessionary times.

Pam Danziger: Affluent consumers are very aware of the cultural changes that are going on. And they’re really calling upon themselves to be responsible consumers.

Then again, if they’re suffering from withdrawal and need a quick fix, the new Neiman Marcus catalog is still dealing. Yeah, there’s an amphibious two-seat aircraft at $250,000 a pop — with a description that says, “You’ve earned something special.”

But Ginger Reeder told us she was careful not to get too carried away putting together this year’s Christmas Book.

Ginger Reeder: It does reflect what’s going on in the world. I don’t think I could have avoided paying attention to that, you know, subconsciously. But consciously, I did not see anything over the top. You know, there were no $10 million yachts being introduced that came across my desk.

We spotted another possible reason for that at the end of the week in the Wall Street Journal. Recent studies are showing shoppers — especially rich ones — are feeling increasingly guilty these days.

Martin Lindstrom is a branding expert and the author of a book called “Buy-ology” — that’s spelled with a B-U-Y. And he explains it’s not just their own financial setbacks that are causing rich consumers to change their habits

Martin Lindstrom: They have this kind of complex dilemma. On one hand, they want to spend money. On the other hand, they don’t dare to do that, because they feel guilty that they can afford it and no one else can afford it.

So just maybe when they’re thumbing through this Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, and they get to page 153, they’ll take a look at this $4,400 nativity set and marble-based creche and perhaps ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”

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