‘Frugal flexing’ is a challenge for luxury brands


Younger consumers are happily buying fake luxury goods at a fraction of the price of the genuine article, as a trend for “dupes” gathers pace. 


  • A 2022 survey by the EU Intellectual Property Office found a surge in the proportion of 15-24-year-olds buying fake products: 37% had bought at least one in the previous 12 months, up from 14% in 2019.
  • On TikTok, the #dupes [duplicates]hashtag has garnered 2.1bn views, #reps [replicas]1.9bn.
  • Counterfeits are finding widespread acceptance among younger consumers who, faced with inflation and cost-of-living concerns, don’t really care about the source of the product and often believe that the replica item is of almost the same quality. 

Why it matters

It’s a social media thing: there’s a class of consumer who likes to show off products or lifestyles that look much more expensive than they actually are – what a journalist at audience research company GWI terms “frugal flexing”. 

And online shopping has made it easier than ever before: it’s simple enough to pick up a fake item for $50 on a Chinese cross-border site rather than lay out $1,000 for the genuine article. 

To an extent, there have always been such people, but what’s changed is that it’s become a trend – fakes are now celebrated and social media discussions revolve around the merits of different fakes. 

But influencers could be at risk from prosecution. The Financial Times quotes a legal source saying that “promoting any infringing product will very often amount to an infringement itself”. Luxury brands could find tackling social media content creators an easier process than shutting down the manufacturers of counterfeit goods.

Key quote

“Consumers, particularly younger ones, are turning away from conspicuous consumption. They’re still interested in gaining status, but are looking to achieve it through thrift and frugality instead” – Chris Beer​, data journalist at GWI. 

Sourced from Financial Times

This article first appeared in https://www.warc.com/

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