Thursday, December 21, 2006

Why and how we spend...

[This is a recycled post from last December - it's easier than rebuilding the archives]

Every now and then you spot a larger trend that resonates with a trend in agriculture. Here is one from The Economist on conspicuous consumption:

The number of luxury buyers in the developed world is also being swelled by two other trends. First, consumers are increasingly adopting a “trading up, trading down” shopping strategy. Many traditional mid-market shoppers are abandoning middle-of-the-range products for a mix of lots of extremely cheap goods and a few genuine luxuries that they would once have thought out of their price league.

Alongside this “selective extravagance” is the growth of “fractional ownership”: time-shares in luxury goods and services formerly available only to those paying full price. Fractional ownership first got noticed when firms such as NetJets started selling access to private jets. It has since spread to luxury resorts, fast cars and much more. In America, From Bags to Riches—“better bags, better value”—lets less-well-off people rent designer handbags. In Britain, Damon Hill, a former racing driver, has launched P1 International. A £2,500 ($4,300) joining fee, plus annual membership of £13,750, buys around 50-70 driving days a year in cars ranging from a Range Rover Sport to a Bentley or a Ferrari.

( Full article here)

This rang a bell - it is similar to leasing combines, etc. that is becoming a trend across the Corn and Wheat Belt. Which led me to the question of how much is the growing acceptance and popularity of such schemes fueled by the desire to drive a bigger, nicer machine for local status reasons. If even we knew ourselves well enough to answer that honestly, I doubt any of us producers would admit it.

Still, I have been known to drive a new tractor/combine/sprayer the long way 'round to a field just to casually pass a neighbor's house. When it only happens a handful of times in your career...

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