In recent times, there has been a marked increase in interest towards luxury products. This renewal of interest in luxury products is mostly driven by demand from the youth. This increased interest may be attributed to several factors such as the media. The macro environment of the globalised world has also been touted as one of the factors driving this renewed interest. The increased interest in luxury brands has, on the other hand, had its negative impacts and shortfalls such as piracy and copyright infringement by the people unable to afford luxury items.
Macro Environment Factors in the Luxury Industry
The macro environment has played a huge role in the development of interest in luxury products. Young people have an increasing access to finances since they are unencumbered by responsibilities and duties unlike their parents. This has led the luxury industry to focus its attention on the young people who present a growing segment that is not affected by the economic downturn given that they also rely upon their parents and have more disposable incomes (Wilcox 2008, p. 14-16). The luxury industry is increasingly gaining traction in the newly affluent economies of Asia such as China and Hong Kong which have remained largely unaffected by the global recession.
Social and cultural factors also play a significant role in driving the interest in luxury products and brands. The luxury market has taken into account the changing demographics in the globalised environment in order to increase sales. This is quite evident in the emerging markets of Asia and the Gulf countries. In the American context young people have been socialized by their parents to value luxury brands and products. Asian markets, on the other hand, have also undergone numerous sociocultural changes which have made young people more independent. The increased independence of young people, thus, makes them a potential market for luxury brands (Balfour 2005, p. 53-64).
Technological factors have also played a crucial role in increasing the palatability of luxury brands among young consumers. Technology is responsible for the increasing sophistication of fake and replica luxury brands. A significant number of consumers of luxury brands have asserted that replica and fake luxury brands offered just as much utility and satisfaction as the authentic and original products (Thomas 2007, p. 78-90). This is testament to the effectiveness of technology in coming up with goods that are cheaper but are of the quality good enough to compare with the name brands.
Factors Influencing the Growth in Interest in Luxury Products
There are several issues besides the macroeconomic environment which drive the growing interest in luxury products among the youth. In the recent past, there has been a remarkable growth in movie franchises which are popular with young people. Franchises such as Harry Potter, Transformers and Twilight which star young people, have made this demographic a target of the luxury products industry. Since young people worship and adore the young people that star in such franchises, luxury brands such as Armani and Louis Vuitton have taken advantage of this. By dressing these stars in luxury products, the latter are advertised. The young demographic is also found to be immune to economic conditions such as the economic downturn. Young people have lesser responsibilities and hence more disposable income than ever before. This increase in disposable income is thus used in the purchase of luxury products (Escalas 2004, p. 168-179).
Young people have been brought up in a culture, which has made them aware of luxury products and products which they observed their parents use. Products such as Armani and Chanel have been a staple of the baby boomer generation, and hence it is not surprising that young people have an emotional attachment to such brands which they are familiar with. Globalization and technology is also a strong driver for the growing interest in luxury products. Media such as Twitter and Facebook have become global phenomena and thus area major opportunity through which luxury products may be advertised (Gumbel 2007). Young franchise heroes such as Emma Watson have used their Twitter and Facebook pages to advertise luxury products such as Gucci and Prada. Since these young people are seen as the epitome of fashion, they drive the tastes and preferences of the general young population which the luxury products industry has taken advantage of.
Reasons for the Interest in Luxury Products and Ironic Purchasing
In the past fake and replica luxury brands were usually sold in back lanes. This trend has, however, shifted and these brands have now become more acceptable to consumers and are competing with the original and authentic products. The instance of the increase in the popularity of fake brands and ironic purchasing thus begs the question why young people buy fake luxury products. People who buy fake products do so because of several reasons. They also give several justifications on their preference for fake luxury products over the authentic ones.
Young people claim that the cheapness of fake luxury products is a factor in their purchasing decisions. Fake and replica brands are more accessible than their original equivalents especially in the countries in which the original is not manufactured. Situations such as holiday making wherein people travel to foreign countries tend to lead to the purchase of fake products since they offer an opportunity for the purchaser to relax their societal norms as no one is watching. Another reason given for the purchase of fake brands is that by buying the fake brand, the purchaser is promoting the original, also promoting the local economy. The instance of fake products is also related to the instance of security. People buy fake or replica luxury products such as jewelry since they feel safer when sporting fake or replica products as opposed to the authentic products (Nunes and Brian 2004, p. 124-132). While this argument may hold water, the stakeholders in the luxury products industry assert that while people may say that they buy luxury products for testing or security purposes, they do not eventually purchase the real products even when circumstances change.
There is also another phenomenon of the increasing tendency towards the perception of fake products as cool. Products such as Sony Ericson and Louis Vuitton have been replicated and given similar names as the copyrighted items. It is ironic that while these products are recognized as fake and replicas, they are increasingly popular among young people. Conducted studies have found out that the purchasing of fakes is not related to income since it was evenly distributed in the economic demographic (Wilcox 2008, p. 54-76). The entry of exclusive luxury products into the mass market also fosters the increase in the purchasing of fake products. Lastly it has been found that people get a psychological kick from purchasing goods which are cheaper yet they offer the same or nearly the same utility as the authentic brands.
The incidence of the growing interest in fake products is a phenomenon that is likely to increase in coming times. With the increase in globalization, changing sociocultural conditions in Asia, America and Europe attitudes towards fake luxury products are going to be more attuned towards acceptance. Media such as movie franchises and social media also present an important means through which not only authentic luxury products are going to be advertised but also the fake products.