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"Aspirational" consumers, Louis Vuitton, and brand / class dynamics

Cayne-Abel

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I'm only vaguely aware of the term "aspirational" consumers. I know that it apparently has something to do with a particular class of consumers that "aspire" to look like they belong to a higher class, or something along those lines. Apparently, some brands market to that crowd (I believe I heard that Louis Vuitton is one of those brands).

Can someone give me a general explanation of how this works? Or at least point me to a source that explains it?

If I under stand it correctly, the brands that the majority of mall-goers *think* are "upper-class" brands (such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc.) are actually NOT upper-class brands, but are instead cleverly-marketed to those who like to pretend they are rich...and these brands tend to be smeared with logos, which is apparently seen as tacky by those who wear true high-end clothing.

Do I basically have that right? Or am I missing something?

If someone can give me a few examples of "aspirational" brands vs. genuine high-end brands, I'd appreciate it.
 

Usul

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Welcome to StyleForvm, I look forward to reading more of your posts.
 

Cayne-Abel

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Originally Posted by Usul
Welcome to StyleForvm, I look forward to reading more of your posts.
Sarcasm noted. Fine then, let's talk about something more interesting. Tell me of your homeworld, Usul.
 

Sebastian_Flyte

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I believe "aspirational" generally means medium priced while giving the impression of luxury. Coach is a good example.

Luxury brands (Prada, LV, etc) can also sell aspirational products-- keychains, t-shirts and other lower-priced items-- or have a diffusion line (e.g. Marc by Marc Jacobs, Z Zegna, etc), although the word "diffusion" is a bit misleading cause most often high-end diffusion lines are still out of the price range of average consumers.
 

Usul

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Awesome, no-one ever remembers who Usul is.
 

Blackhood

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Basic consumer theory states that almost everyone has two images in their head;

1. What they are at the moment. This is a picture of the person they believe themselves to be. It is often less attractive, less wealthy and less successful than the truth.

2. The person they wish they could be. This is always fitter, wealthier and more successfully than their lifestyle will allow.

Anyone who is "aspirational" is aspiring to move from the first class to the second class through the use of material goods. They will buy brands that have an "image" of success. LV is a good example, not only because it is expensive, but because the amount of fakes in the world make it look like more people have it.

If you are the kind of consumer who wants to live the "lifestyle" of the "Ideal Self" (image number two) then you will purchase goods that are priced higher than their tangible value.

Any brand who wishes to be "aspirational" must go through certain stages that can take months or years or even decades to perfect. These include but are not limited to:

1. Establishing credibility through association with genuine "celebrities." Once a lay-man can be convinced of a brand's value through association with a so-called specialist, perceived worth is increased. THis may mean David Beckham wearing PRPS or Allan Flusser advocating Kiton.

2. Price the product so that 95% of the population cannot afford it with disposable income, but with savings and sacrifice about 80% could make one purchase.

3. Profit.

Basically, if you wish you were something that you're not, and the thing you aren't is "rich" then you are aspirational. And there are millions of people waiting to take your money, just so that you feel like you have money to give away.
 

countdemoney

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Trading up is a good resource as well, and does a good job of looking at things and brands that have value to people and how they will economize in one area to spend more in another. You see this particular drama play out on SF all the time.
 

LA Guy

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Also see "GILT Groupe", Hautebook, Ruelala, Loehmann's "Back Room", Bluefly, Yoox, Styleforum B&S, essentially, anywhere people are using time rather than money to "buy up."
 

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