I don't think people lost their minds, I think people buy what they like and can afford, similar to tastes in vehicles and boats. I could have purchased a Mercedes or BMW, but I prefer my F250 and Alumacraft.
For me I learned to fish with whatever rod my Dad gave me to use, nothing brand name. When I got older and first married I bought my first graphite rod and loved it, I had a couple of BassPro graphite rods, and used these for 25 years while raising a family. One day while browsing through a local tackle shop I found a St Croix Triumph for $80.00 and bought it to try out. This is when I discovered I loved St Croix. Once my 3 boys moved out, and had extra spending money, my mission was to replace all of my rods with St Croix Premier and Avid rods. I have about 25 now from ultra lights to 9 foot musky rods and I love them! I have always been an ABU Garcia fan and mostly have their baitcasting reels, (especially love the REVO Toro Beast), with a few Mitchel ultralight reels and Shimano spinning gear.
I took advantage of the BassPro/Cabela's Credit card and the points I earned each year were used to cover most if not all of each rod I bought. Being ready to retire in 90 days, I think I am finished with my acquisitions.
BTW I broke that first Triumph rod and my line two years ago, 25 years after I first bought it, on Lake Shabbona here in Illinois when I hooked into something big while crappie fishing.