I don't, nor ever have, equate fly rod quality with cost. That could be because I never did pay much attention to major fly rod advertisements or reviews/brand mentions in the outdoor magazines, a subdivision of travel writing in which the writers are generally fueled by freebies. Good for them; they do get good stuff that way. But you don't see many articles about a poor venue, poor service, and lousy equipment. Editors know what they need to put between the advertising. Advertising, too, can be informative, but the purpose is to create the aura--it is real--as described in the wine-tasting example. If the affective realm of stuff ownership is appealing, that's a choice too. Study all the mags, read all the ads, check the latest and greatest and go to all the shops--people have a ball doing that, even knowing It is a conditioning process they can chose or lose. I do very little of it, and even with partners I have fished with for decades, I could only recall a brand or two of rod or reel they had--if they had a preference at all, if we ever talked about it, or if I ever noticed. When we went fishing, we fished, and I noticed how they fished and we noticed what was effective and what wasn't. So the effective realm--function based--can be more important to some people, and that's the choice I always tried to make.
Most are on balance of this spectrum; it needn't be one or the other. Anywhere along the way could be perceived as snobbery, but it isn't.
There are many examples of this range just within the growth and change of a company. Orvis was a fly reel and fly rod company. It became, under well directed leadership, a "life style" company. The image of that life style is carried by fly rod, even if the owner of the rod never does buy a dog bed. The image grew the company and gives satisfaction to many Orvis buyers.
There is something out there for everyone, but a label like snobbery is in the eyes of the perceiver, not the ones who own or do something, or both in a certain way. People immersed in fulfilling activity and ownership, whatever the balance, are too busy to waste time feeling better than someone else.
Casual disparaging use of the term "snob" (and I felt from the start, as the OP later clarified, that it was not being used in that way) is sad, because it conceals the underlying emotion of envy. People consumed by envy find it harder and harder to climb out of or even recognize, so their personal psychological defense is to critique others. If they would just get what they want and do what they want with it, the envy would dissipate and so would their need to superficially judge others, or the misconception that others are doing the same. As the old saying goes, "You would not worry about what others thought of you if you knew how seldom they did."
Thank goodness we have a range of interests here, nonsnobs if I can use that term, with a variety of stuff and angling techniques, and a common interest to share thoughts and information.