It's Prada or nada...

The studio (as always) was in conversation the other morning, after we’d all had our coffees, woken up and before we got neck-deep in client work – of course.

Although it can be hard to get a coherent dialogue with this lot, the discussion turned to fashion brands we used to wear at school. If you went to a British secondary school and are in your early to mid-twenties now (sorry Tony), you’ll remember the days of Jane Norman bags, Hollister tops and everything having Jack Wills splurged across it. As we reminisced it got me thinking – why is branding so important to consumers?

Jane Noman bags stacked on top of each other

Whether it was the brands considered trendy when we were younger or the luxury brands that increasingly fill our closets as we get older (guilty), they are all instantly recognisable by a logo, brand or name. For many people purchasing a Chanel bag that costs the bulk of your salary that month, or, saving up for the Gucci sunglasses that you just HAD to have is common practice. Unless you’ve got a good job with a high salary or developed unbelievable personal saving habits, buying luxury consumer goods is almost… irrational. So, why do we do it?

Woman holding different designer shopping bags
Luxury Chanel boxes with bows stacked ontop
White Chanel shopping bags

Vigeron and Johnson (1999) came up with the brand luxury index (BLI); five categories of prestige customers:

  • The Veblen effect – Some people perceive non-luxury goods as inferior simply because they aren’t luxury (not necessarily on any proven quality or characteristics). The Veblenians among us consume luxury brands as a means to impress others.
  • The snob effect – The perception of unique value, snob consumers believe the price of luxury goods to be an indication of exclusivity.
  • The bandwagon effect – These people place more value on belonging, their social identity and status. Non-verbally signalling their higher status to others via their consumption of premier brands.
  • The hedonic effect – Hedonists are more focused on their emotional attachment to a luxury brand and how it makes them feel, rather than price or social status.
  • The perfectionism effect – A perception of higher quality – these consumers want the best! There’s also an assumption that the higher the price tag the better the quality, a study showed that in 2019 47.02% of consumers in the UK buy luxury goods for exactly that reason! What’s the old saying again? Buy cheap, buy twice.
White house with gates opened and projecting Chanel signs
Prada shopfront design in the middle of a desert

It might just be my sociological brain talking, but I think that pretty much explains it. Our consumption of luxury brands is intrinsically linked to brand messaging, whether that be one of quality, exclusivity or prestige. As humans, our desire to be unique and special lead us to consume brands that communicate a particular message to our peers, even at the expense of our bank balance!

I’ll have to go back to the studio and ask them what kind of consumer they are; actually, never mind, they’d probably just make a stupid joke.