Would you dump a Mercedes Benz on the side of a road?
Money makes you pick the bizarre when you shop. Sometimes too much money perhaps makes you do somewhat bizarre things. Beauty business diva Shahnaz Husain shreds into pieces numerous brand new Louis Vuitton bags ruthlessly to stitch up her gowns. A Haryana-based businessman bought a brand new Mercedes Benz to drive on the Taj Expressway and once he had his fill, he banged it and then dumped it.
Many ultra rich people are finding bizarre ways to distinguish themselves from the kind of people they mingle with.
Abraham Koshy, professor of marketing at IIM Ahmedabad, says that for some super rich people it is a way of reassuring themselves that they have arrived in life. They’re thinking, "If everyone can buy an LV, how am I any different?" he says.
A few days ago, wife of a Delhi-based businessman came up with a novel idea to express her apology for not being able to attend a high-profile wedding. She got three Birkin handbags imported to be sent out to the bride's family along with a card that read, "Sorry, I could not attend your wedding".
Named after singer Jane Birkin, these handmade leather bags from Hermes are a symbol of wealth because of their fat price tags as well as their lack of availability. According to the Hermes store manager, there is a minimum waiting of one-and-a-half to two years for a bag in India.
"Our client paid a premium of Rs 1 lakh for each bag and the total bill for the three bags was over Rs 60 lakh to get them imported from Tokyo in two weeks," says Sonia Deshmukh, marketing head at luxury concierge services provider Quintessentially Lifestyle, which imported the bags.
In a recent study, Niro Sivanathan, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, and Nathan Pettit of Cornell University's Johnson School of Management, found that consumers spend more on high-status goods when their ego is threatened.
Deshmukh's concierge firm recently ordered nine cases of a Japanese whiskey that cost over Rs 50,000 a bottle to be served at the pre-wedding function at a Musoorie farmhouse. Part of the deal was to ensure that no one who attended and got a taste of the whiskey should know how it can be sourced in India! "The idea is to get a psychological edge over others in the group," a social scientist based in Delhi. "Luxury goods often act as psychological armour rather than just being status symbols," said the person.
A Louis Vuitton handbag in India costs upwards of Rs 50,000
Shahnaz Husain has a Louis Vuitton collection in her wardrobe—not crafted at any factory of the French fashion giant, but at her bungalow in South Delhi, designed by herself and stitched by an in-house tailor.
"I always buy two identical LV bags. One is cut into pieces to design my clothes—I use as them as patches on the sleeves and collars," Husain says. "In the last thirty years, I have bought several hundred bags. LV is a magnet and I feel drawn to it." For the curious, a Louis Vuitton handbag in India costs upwards of Rs 50,000.
Diljeet Titus, one of Delhi's top lawyers, has bought 40 handsets of luxury phone brand Vertu in the last couple of years. Vertu phones in India cost between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 66 lakh. Titus, who loves to splurge on luxury watches, suits, phones and vintage cars for himself, has no qualms about engaging in retail therapy. In the last few years, he has bought 40 Vertu phones! Titus, who goes on pleasure trips abroad regularly and sometimes only for shopping, calls it retail therapy. He loves to splurge on luxury watches, suits, phones and vintage cars.
Early this year, a Noida-based real estate tycoon ordered 60 Rolex watches to go with the invites of his daughter's wedding.
There are also people who want to pamper themselves by splurging on rare experiences and products to celebrate their success or to establish their identity. A Delhi-based exporter has booked a trip to the North Pole to celebrate 'turning 40' with three friends. "They have paid around Rs 60 lakh per person to be a part of the 'Extreme Driving Expedition' being held in March next year" says the organiser.
Meanwhile, a growing number of people in India have gained the ability to splurge even as many who are reading this article may have restricted themselves to affordable luxury to cope with the slowing economy and rising prices.
Dinaz Madhukar, vice president at DLF Emporio, a luxury mall in South Delhi, says all the brands in the mall are reporting rising sales. "This is the right season for people to be shopping. The mall is populated with shoppers looking their best in winter clothing," she says.
Author: Vijaya Rathore
Source: Economic Times
Cover Image Courtesy: © Thinkstockphotos/Getty images
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