I.5.2. What are Masstige Brands?

The emergence of this type of brand resolved the traditional dichotomy between luxury and non-luxury brands. The term  'masstige brands' easily conveys their basic idea: offering prestige to the masses (some authors also use 'new luxury' or 'mass luxury' (Kapferer and Bastien 2009b, p. 312). Typical masstige brands include Coach, Godiva, Starbucks and Victoria`s Secret (Silverstein and Fiske 2003, p. 51). Although these brands are not luxury brands, they still rate higher than middle-market brands on the major dimensions of luxury products. Masstige brands concentrate especially on creating symbolic benefits and prestige; they care very much about shine and therefore also about design. Zara exemplifies the idea of selling taste and style to the masses, which is accomplished by imitating the design of luxury brands for their clothing, stores and advertising. However, as demonstrated in the Figure below, they are forced to cut back on the other major characteristics. A mass-prestige-business in the mass/middle-class market reduces the level of rarity and can only be achieved with reasonable prices, which, in turn, requires a compromise on quality and extraordinariness (see also Keller 2009, p. 295). The study carried out by Truong et al. (2009, p. 379) demonstrates that masstige brands successfully differentiate themselves from middle-range brands by their prestige and from luxury brands mainly by their reasonable pricing. The authors found out that products from luxury fashion brands are about three times more expensive than masstige products, which, in turn, are about twice as expensive as middle-range products. While there is only a relatively small difference in prestige between luxury and masstige brands, the latter were indeed perceived as being much more prestigious than middle-range brands.

 

An example of the Masstige Strategy

 

The masstige strategy is also applied by many luxury brands. They are trading-down by extending their product range with masstige products that are more accessible to middle-class consumers (Kapferer and Bastien 2009b, p. 321; Truong et al. 2009, p. 379). This kind of price differentiation marks one of the major growth strategies for luxury brands. The challenge that comes with this strategy is one of preserving an image of exclusivity (Keller 2009, p. 292 et seq.). This problem has been solved by Ferrari with line extensions in product categories that do not compete with the brand’s core identity: while Ferrari cars remain very expensive and exclusive, the value of the brand is exploited by offering products in categories as diverse as apparel to computers (Berthon et al. 2009, p. 54).

Both the trading-up strategy of masstige brands and the trading-down strategy of luxury brands make luxury-like products accessible for middle-class consumers. This development is referred to as the 'democratization of luxury.' According to the economic relativity of luxury (see above), democratic luxury products are characterized by Kapferer and Bastien (2009b, p. 314) as "ordinary items for extraordinary people", which are at the same time "extraordinary items for ordinary people".

Further reading about the implementation of the masstige strategey here (in German).