Econo-Girl watched a fascinating documentary on PBS on advertising and how it works. The basic point was that since products cannot reasonably be differentiated by quality of product any more, advertising seeks to associate feelings and impressions with a product to get people to buy it.
So an ad creates a certain feeling about the group of people who supposedly use the product. People want to be in that group of people, so they buy the product.
Since seeing that documentary, Econo-Girl can chuckle at the silly ads for a computer chip that just shows people dancing and waving their arms in the air. And the car ads that show more mountains and forest than car.
People may feel a lack of belonging, leading to spending to try to belong to a group as defined by an advertisement. What ever happened to religious groups? Or clubs? Or hobbies? Econo-Girl always said if you aren't a geek about something, you are boring about everything. And it's generally true.