To refresh your memory: the more access consumers have to quality, MASS CLASS goods and services (the DVD player in your living room probably doesn't differ too much from the one Madonna's children use to watch Lilo and Stitch), the more they want exclusivity and status of a different order. The kind that visibly sets you apart from the masses and gives you access to privileges most others won't get.
This is why I think the ideas in Virginia Postrel's new book The Substance of Style are so important for businesses. As more and more products and services are brought to the masses, customization becomes more important, and aesthetic values play a big part in that. Functionally, it is easy to copy a product and sell your own version, so the real margins are in the aesthetics. That is what makes the product stand out.
Coming from an engineering background, I can tell you that many technical people don't grasp this. Lots of tech people laughed at the iMac, because computers are functional, not stylish. Who would buy a radio or DVD player or computer or cell phone for style? Most people would, I think. Tech people miss that sometimes because they are so caught up in the esoteric features that the average consumer doesn't know how to use.