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No one likes a snob. He lowers his salmon-colored Financial Times to register disgust with your every-colored USA Today. Picking up his detailed Maserati Quattroporte GTS (with sport package), he sighs as you bounce into the car wash with your 2008 Honda CR-V. He lives in a better neighborhood, his kids go to a better school, and his dog is a pure-bred shipped in from an artisanal kennel in Hungary.
Being called a snob is one of the worst insults you can offer to a class-denying American. That’s why CEOs brag to their employees about flying coach, celebs hang out with sick commoners at the local children’s hospital, and multimillionaire politicians suck down corn dogs like carny folk. (Note: None of these rules apply to The Donald, for he laughs at the iron laws of political physics.)
But the dirty little secret is that everyone is a snob. Hopefully not about many things, but always about something. Wherever you fall on the income scale, there is at least one area in which you will not skimp. The F-150 driver in rural Michigan who scoffs at the fools driving Chevy pickup trucks. A self-described redneck in Kentucky who only drinks Basil Hayden’s bourbon. The stoned surfer who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Quiksilver tee.
As for me, I’m a snob about a couple of things, but especially coffee. I might not live in a mansion or commute to Ricochet HQ on my Gulfstream, but I will delay paying my water bill in order to get beans shipped from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago. And I wouldn’t think twice.
A book titled Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods — and How Companies Create Them discusses how the vast majority of Americans of all income levels will treat themselves to something special:
America’s middle-market consumers are trading up.
They are willing, even eager, to pay a premium price for remarkable kinds of goods that we call New Luxury — products and services that possess higher levels of quality, taste, and aspiration than other goods in the category but are not so expensive as to be out of reach.
Consider Jake, a 34-year-old construction worker earning about $50,000 a year, whose passion is golf. It took Jake a year to save enough money to buy a complete set of Callaway golf clubs — $3,000 worth of premium titanium-faced drivers, putters, and wedges — although he could have bought a decent set from a conventional producer for under $1,000.
As I said, my snobby vice is coffee. Even if I was living in a box under a freeway bridge, if a businessman walked by with a tankard full of 7-11 Hazelnut Blend, I would shake my head and think, “what a loser.”
How about you: what are the one or two areas in which you’re a complete snob?Published in