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Influence of ethnicity on uniqueness & snob value in purchase behaviour of luxury brands

Sandeep Bhanot, Dr. R Srinivasan, Dr. R. K Srivastava


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The concept of luxury has been present in various forms since the beginning of civilization. Its role was just as important in ancient western and eastern empires as it is in modern societies. With the clear differences between social classes in earlier civilizations, the consumption of luxury was limited to the elite classes. It also meant the definition of luxury was fairly clear. Whatever the poor cannot have and the elite can was identified as luxury. With increasing ‘democratization’, (Wong & Ahuvia (1998)), several new product categories were created within the luxury market which were aptly called – accessible luxury or mass luxury. This kind of luxury specifically targeted the middle class (or what is sometimes termed as aspiring class). As luxury penetrated into the masses, defining luxury has become difficult (Shukla. 2010).   In contemporary marketing usage, Prof. Bernard Dubois (2004) defines ‘luxury’ as a specific (i.e. higher-priced) tier of offer in almost any product or service category. However, despite the substantial body of knowledge accumulated during the past decades, researchers still haven’t arrived on a common definition of luxury. Many other attempts have been made to define luxury using the price-quality dimension stating higher priced products in any category is luxury. Similarly, researchers have used the uniqueness aspects of luxury too. Prof. Jean-Noel Kapferer (2005), takes an experiential approach and defines luxury as items which provide extra pleasure by flattering all senses at once. Several other researchers focus on exclusivity dimension and argue that luxury evokes a sense of belonging to a certain elite group. Several manufactured products attain the status of "luxury goods" due to their design, quality, durability or performance that are remarkably superior to the comparable substitutes. Thus, virtually every category of goods available on the market today includes a subset of similar products whose "luxury" is marked by better-quality components and materials, solid construction, stylish appearance, increased durability, better performance, advanced features, and so on. As such, these luxury goods may retain or improve the basic functionality for which all items of a given category are originally designed. There are also goods that are perceived as luxurious by the public simply because they play a role of status symbols as such goods tend to signify the purchasing power of those who acquire them. These items, while not necessarily being better (in quality, performance, or appearance) than their less expensive substitutes, are purchased with the main purpose of displaying wealth or income of their owners. These kinds of goods are the objects of a socio-economic phenomenon called conspicuous consumption and commonly include luxury vehicles, watches, jewellery, designer clothing, yachts, as well as large residences and urban mansions.


Luxury brand; Uniqueness; Snob value; Ethnicity

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