Career Woman

What is masstige, and why this niche is taking off


Masstige has become one of those phrases bandied around in the marketing world for some time now. It has traditionally been a niche, but as borders break down and technology improves it is starting to take off as consumer behaviour evolves. It is worth revisiting the definition of masstige but also unlocking the opportunity that tapping into this category can pose for brands smart enough to leverage this shift.

In a nutshell, Masstige refers to goods that are mass-produced or relatively inexpensive goods to produce, but that are marketed as ‘prestigious’ or more ‘luxurious’ to an aspirational audience.  Traditionally this category has grown from brands stepping down from high-end luxury, often prompted by global downturns in spending that heavily impact luxury brands as people reduce their discretionary spending. Mass brands have also started to play in the masstige space as consumer needs become more complex and discerning, with customers looking for something special and also wanting to ‘stand out from the crowd’.

In order to understand Masstige, we need to think about consumer behaviour and how it has evolved due to the tension of influence thathas developed in recent years. Firstly there is the aspirational ‘pull up’ of social media where brands have more communication channels to ’influence’ than ever before, they can openly engage and effect about how their brands are positioned with consumers, making them more aspirational & appealing via  influencers, micro influencers as well as their traditional communications and digital marketing.  Whilst brands can no longer control their branding on all channels (engaging influencers, and now peer marketers or ‘micro influencers’ has required a brave ‘jump’ from traditional controlled communications strategies where brands lead the conversation),what they can do is engage in a conversation with their customers and leverage third-party endorsement of influencers like never before, increasing their footprint and their luxury appeal.

On the flip side, we live in a world where consumption and overspending on luxury items can be seen as a negative, and where economic downturns, acts of terrorism,  spikes in home loan rates, anything that sparks insecurity, can lead to a climate where people get more ‘serious’ about what they spend their money on, and ‘pull down’ their willingness for discretionary  or luxury spending.  Global uncertainty is a major driver in what appears to be a growing shift from excess and consumerism to ‘minimalism’ and scaling back both clutter and anything deemed unnecessary. There is also a push towards more holistic qualities as family time, mental health and overall wellbeing become more aspirational luxury commodities than actual goods.

This tension between the ‘social media aspirations’ and ‘minimalist anti-consumerism’ has created an interesting middle ground for both luxury and mass brands to play in and more importantly grow their businesses as consumers seek a unique middle ground. Many luxury brands attempt to pull a more ‘step-up’ consumer into luxury or broaden their ranges into more mass-produced goods that are luxurious but affordable. Mass brands understand consumers want something different, so they too have grown this space by creating spin-off limited editions and items that tap into a need for uniqueness.  Some brands have launched straight into this space, The Daily Edited is a brand that has tapped into a consumer desire for quality & luxury and has completely exploded due to its ability to offer quality personalization (uniqueness) at mid-level price points.

But perhaps the biggest opportunity as masstige takes off lies with small business. The rise of the digital marketplace, and developments around globalization and the ability to create and source goods overseas (ethically and openly),  has seen a groundswell of entrepreneurs, perfectly positioned to launch into this category. If we think about traditional triggers for luxury purchases – quality, craftsmanship, branding, uniqueness – entrepreneurs have all the tools at their fingertips to compete with mass-produced brands (at both ends), and leverage their individual and often fascinating brand stories. They also have the advantage of less infrastructure and running costs, often starting small, building online only and expanding rapidly.  This is an advantage –  traditional luxury brands growing in this space often need to cater to both high end and masstige at the same time, trying to grow their share yet not damage their brand attributes that appeal to their more high-end customers. Mass brands also struggle as global work practices come into question and consumers question what is the true ethical cost of a $4 t-shirt. They also have to build authenticity and overcome their ‘cheaper’ perceptions when stretching into the masstige space.

It is this paradigm that opens the way for small, unique, quality brands to tap into the growth of masstige and sell their point of difference, in order to reap the rewards as pressures continue to mount on both the low and high ends of the market.

About Melanie Aslanidis

Melanie Aslanidis is a Media / Marketing Professional from Sydney where she has worked with several luxury brands, understanding their business challenges and what drives consumers. She started her own business Beachside Collective in 2017, where she markets unique and boutique style coastally inspired brands

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