The Psychology of Masstige Brands


The tension between social media’s aspirational content and an economic climate, tightening the pockets of consumers around the globe has created a growing playground of masstige fashion brands. Masstige, the place where mass-market meets prestige includes household names such as Kurt Geiger, Michael Kors and House of CB among many others. Whilst it’s true that such brands allow consumers to dip a toe in the world of luxury without having to pay and arm and a leg, Psychologists have found an emotional component to our fondness for masstige fashion.

The recently departed fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld is often hailed as a pioneer of masstige fashion. In 2004, Lagerfeld became the first luxury designer to collaborate with the Swedish high street giant H&M. Since then, we’ve seen several luxury houses from Roberto Cavalli (2007) to Moschino (2018) join H&M to produce collections for mass consumption. When we previously discussed the success of H&M’s collaborations we highlighted the importance of the Scarcity Principle. Although Lagerfeld vowed to never work with H&M again due to them not making enough clothes to suit the demand, scarcity is a powerful force, forcing consumers to buy or risk missing out. But what about the masstige brands, producing seasonal collections year round? How do these brand maintain popularity, consistently flood our timelines? Research by Keji Adebeshin (2015) has highlighted four key reasons behind their popularity.

Differentiation – when people buy from masstige brands it “gratifies a desire to be different from others to express personal tastes and to appear hip, stylish and unique”

Belonging – masstige products are used as a tool to form the basis for relationships, to impress others and to belong with others through collective consumption

Self-Care – Purchasing masstige products activates a ‘taking-care-of-me’ dimension where people purchase these products for special occasions or just to treat themselves.

Excitement – People have reported that masstige brands provide a sense of adventure and liberation

Where luxury products represent status and exclusivity, masstige products relies more on tapping into emotions and values shared by people at many income levels and many walks of life (Silverstein and Fiske 2003)



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