Young people now prefer dupes to genuine luxury goods | The Citizen

Younger shoppers are no longer ashamed to wear low-cost imitations of luxury clothes and accessories.

A new study reports that Gen Zs and Millennials now prefer to buy imitations (“dupes”) than high-end luxury items, and that price is not the only reason.

Dupes are having a major moment right now. These low-cost imitations of luxury or high-end products are all the rage among young consumers, in the fashion, beauty, food, leisure and now even travel worlds.

On social networks – and on TikTok in particular – the hashtags #dupe and #dupes count 6 billion and 3.5 billion views respectively, and that’s without counting their many variants such as #dupemakeup (85 million views), #dupeperfume (61 million views), or #fashiondupes (28 million views). The Chinese platform is evidently awash with hot tips, inspiration and other dupe trends – a veritable tidal wave that testifies not only to an unprecedented craze for these copies, but also to the incalculable number of ‘duplicates’ now available on the market.

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Preferring dupes to luxury

A new report from YPulse, which specialises in analysing the behaviour of younger generations, reveals that Gen Y and Z consumers now prefer to buy dupes than luxury products – in other words, the original, high-end versions of these copies. The figures are indisputable, with more American and Canadian consumers aged 13 to 39 reporting that they have bought a dupe than those who have invested in a luxury product. In detail, 60% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 have turned to these imitations, compared with 41% who have spent money on a luxury item.

But even older respondents, who generally benefit from greater purchasing power, are not to be outdone. More than two-thirds of 18-24 and 25-39 year-olds (67% for both age groups) claim to have already bought a dupe, compared with 54% and 61%, respectively, who have invested in a luxury product.

It has to be said that younger people do not perceive luxury in the same way as their elders. According to YPulse, Gens Z and Y consider a luxury product to be an item sold by a prominent, if not easily identifiable, brand, which explains why they see Nike or Victoria’s Secret as luxury brands, in the same way as Louis Vuitton or Gucci, for example.

“While purchasing a dupe item doesn’t inherently mean the product is replacing a luxury item, the way Gen Z and Millennials define what’s ‘luxury’ is being influenced by the world events that shaped their reality – but it’s not just recessions and economic uncertainty that has influenced their price perception.

These generations have grown up shopping at big box, mass merch, and fast fashion retailers, which have completely recalibrated their ideas around spending. Gen Z and Millennials agree that major designers are luxury, but because of their low threshold for what is expensive, just about any brand with a recognisable name can be considered luxury item to them – which is why they’re finding viral dupes for brands like Lululemon, Sol de Janeiro, and SKIMS,” reads the report.

Not just a question of cost

Younger generations are turning to dupes because of their lower cost, but that’s not the only driving force. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Gen Z and Millennials consider that dupes give them the “luxury” feeling without spending a lot of money, but 60% say they would still turn to dupes even if they could afford the original luxury items.

And the experience – the thrill of unearthing cheaper alternatives – is also part of the game for more than half of those surveyed.

Whereas consumers used to be ashamed of buying imitations, as they suggested lower purchasing power, they’re now proud to share their finds, which are ultimately synonymous with savvy shopping. And that’s something luxury brands need to take into account if they don’t want to lose their prime target.

“The dupe mindset reflects not only a pragmatic approach to spending but also a desire for an inclusive sense of luxury. Most dupe shoppers actually prefer a dupe over the item it’s ‘duping’ because it’s cheaper, sure, but more importantly, dupes are just as good to them.

To capitalise on this trend, brands can consider expanding their affordable lines or collaborating with influencers who champion budget-friendly alternatives. The key lies in understanding and adapting to the changing dynamics of consumer behaviour in the dupe mindset era,” the report concludes.

*The survey was conducted between 1 and 8 August, 2023, and between November 22 and November 28, 2022, among a nationally representative sample of 1,500 people aged 13 to 39 in the United States and Canada.

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