The concept certainly isn't new. Consider the phrases "put your money where your mouth is", "talk is cheap", "actions speak louder than words", etc. Note that the first two idioms make a direct reference to money. The latter refers to "actions" which take time to implement, and time is often equated with money. That's a kind of a stretch, though, so I'll generalize that people will make an "investment" in the things that they care about. Investment does not even necessarily have to refer to time or money. Rather investment, in this context, simply means the use of something valuable to further, reach, or effect an end.
My point in all of this is this: A person will invest in things relative to the importance of those things to him. As I've said, this investment doesn't necessarily have to be money, but money is easily quantifiable and is almost, if not completely, universally regarded as valuable. So, here are some examples (in addition to those above) of money showing what is really important to people:
- It's a generally accepted fact that Christians, on average, tithe 2-3% of their income rather than the commanded 10%. (The slightly bigger house, fast food, cable TV, etc. are arguably more important than the 10% "donation".) [By the way, please don't flame me. I fall into this group, and I know it's wrong.]
- Walmart is still in business (and profiting) despite its wide regard as a pariah among businesses by its employees and customers. (Low prices and employment are a bigger concern than Walmart's business practices and the "plight" of its workers.)
- Consumers have rejected the compostable Sun Chips bag because of its aesthetics despite the wide outcry for "green" products. (The loudness of the bag is a bigger factor than "saving the planet" via reducing waste.)