A new study published in the journal of Nature Communications has delivered an explanation as to why we aspire to luxury brands, and it’s a lot more to do with our hormones than you might have originally thought.
Sure, there’s nothing like the thrill of a turbo charged Porsche, dressing in the latest designer suit, or splashing on a luxury watch, but scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that it's actually testosterone that drives male consumer behaviour.
And while demonstrations of extravagant purchases for status to vie for female attention have long been documented (aka ‘peacocking’), this is the first study to link hormones to the decision making process.
Speaking to AFP, study co-author Gideon Nave explained that the desire to buy luxury brands comes back to a primal need to impress the opposite sex through ‘status symbols’.
“Testosterone plays a role in behaviours that relate to social rank (in animals), and owning status products is a strategy to signal one's rank within human social hierarchies," explained Nave.
The study followed over 240 men aged between 18 and 55 to follow their consumer behaviours after receiving a small dose of testosterone. Applied via a gel, one group was given testosterone while another was given fake dose in an attempt to create a placebo effect. Effectively, each man thought he had received a dose of testosterone, which allowed scientists an unbiased analysis of behaviour.
"We found that the men who received testosterone showed greater preference towards the high status brands," said Nave. "[The effect was] akin to behaviour of non-human animals, where testosterone typically rises during the breeding season and promotes the display of traits that signal the organism's fitness to potential competitors and mates," he added.