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Carrol Capital

Luxury for less


TIME magazine reported on Assistant Professor of Marketing Henrik Hagtvedt’s forthcoming paper in the Journal of Consumer Psychology about the strength and extension of luxury brands during a recession.

In “The Broad Embrace of Luxury: Hedonic Potential as a Driver of Brand Extendibility,” Hagtvedt and coauthor Vanessa M. Patrick, associate professor of marketing at the University of Houston, argue that the pleasure inherent in luxury brands attracts shoppers to luxury goods, even in a recession. As a result, shoppers are more willing to purchase goods that carry the luxury brand name and related price tag in unrelated product categories.

Hagtvedt and Patrick conducted studies contrasting a luxury brand with a value brand to test their thesis. Two groups of subjects were given the same product. The first group was given a “value” brand, the second a “luxurious” brand. While subjects rated both products favorably, when the researchers asked them how they would feel if the brand was applied to six other products, the subjects heavily favored the luxury brand.

“Luxury is associated with pleasure and emotional gratification—attributes that consumers may enjoy in almost any product category,” says Hagtvedt. “When consumers can’t afford a Jaguar convertible, perhaps they can afford a Jaguar pen or a pair of Jaguar sunglasses.” 

Carefully extending their brands may help them weather a recession, yet manufacturers of luxury goods should never abandon their luxury positioning. The authors warn that doing so may damage the brand in the long run.

Hagtvedt’s research focuses on aesthetics and experiential consumer behavior. Prior to receiving his doctorate from the University of Georgia, he worked in marketing and strategy in Norway, Germany, and Atlanta, and, for 11 years, was a full-time visual artist.