The Lifestyle Creep: From Sustenance to Sumptuousness

With an increase in income, people tend to upgrade. Their car, their house, their clothing, their food, even. 

Home Sweet Home

Something as basic as your principal residence says so much more about you than just the absolute need for safe shelter. We know that for decades and with the rise of suburbs, families will look directly to their neighbors and community for the “standard” of living.

In AIE’s blog post on June 5, 2016, the author goes into detail about the stats of American households. The author notes that “over the last 42 years, the average new US house has increased in size by more than 1,000 square feet, from an average size of 1,660 square feet in 1973 (earliest year available from the Census Bureau) to 2,687 square feet last year.” 

To each their own. I may feel completely content with the size of my home and land, others may feel the desire to purchase a home with more storage space or with room to grow, as they say. 

Wealth is Branded?

When people surpass an income bracket and they believe that wealth is branded, some will be eager to part with their money and level up in fascinating ways. 

Let’s think about this food thing for a second. Brand positioning will have you thinking your old grocery store is not good enough. What do you mean you’re not paying an exorbitant amount for a carton of eggs? 

All jokes aside, an easy category to see this effect on is coffee. 

Like I mentioned in the previous blog post, Market Positioning: Coffee’s Place in your Daily Life, “marketers are selling coffee, sure, but they are also selling the idea of status and popularity.” If you have an extra $50 dollars per week lying around, you may be tempted to use it to buy coffee every day of the week instead of making coffee at home for under $1.00 per cup. 

You can even get take out that rings up over $1,000 from restaurants that are usually the it place to see and be seen. Trust me, I enjoy a good meal with my family, but the level at which food is branded is something else. Talk about going from sustenance to sumptuousness.

The Aspirational Lifestyle

The car industry is so fascinating to me. Think about it. Cars are things with motors that lose a substantial amount of their value pretty quickly, and yet, they make up a large portion of some people’s net worth or, dare I say, their debt. If an individual believes that wealth is branded, then, yeah, they will take that new car with a $500 monthly payment over their paid-for vehicle. 

Marketing that speaks to the aspirational lifestyle and dictates that a specific way of living is the only way to live is wildly powerful, and in my opinion, quite damaging. 

What are your thoughts on the lifestyle creep and how it is marketed? If you’re not done reading on the topic, check out Conglomerates & Discounts to continue reading on the power of brand positioning and perceived value.  

Perry, Mark. “New US homes today are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973 and living space per person has nearly doubled.” AIE (blog), June 5, 2016, 

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