It's a status thing. People are so conditioned to look for labels so they can "rate" you. Nothing more than that imho.
I was accosted by one gentleman who demanded to know what camera I was using. I had all identifying marking covered by black tape. He was incensed that I wouldn't tell him. The point I was trying to make to him was that it's not the camera that makes the photographer (sorry Leica fanboys). Mind you he was wearing highly labelled expensive clothing so brand was very important to him. So sad.
I believe you're correct.
Last summer some yobbo asked me "what is the zoom ratio of that lens?".
I was carrying a Nikkormat FTN with the 28/3.5 Nikkor-H, all circa 1970.