"Conspicuous consumption" as a term was used by The Who to explain their destruction of guitars, amplifiers, and other equipment at the end of a concert. This behavior has also been copied by bands like Rage Against the Machine and the late grunge band Nirvana.

In economics, the theory of conspicuous consumption is used to describe the purchase of commodities which satisfies no physical need, only a psychological need, that of identifying the consumer to others as having superior wealth and social standing. Conspicuous consumption can also signify that a consumer belongs to a particular group, and the consumption is 'necessary' to maintain that membership, a classic case of 'keeping up with the Joneses'

The term was coined by Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class published in 1899.

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