Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Consumer Attitude towards Luxury Brands: An Empirical Study

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

Consumer Attitude towards Luxury Brands: An Empirical Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

The word 'luxury' is derived from the Latin word 'luxus' which means opulence, exuberance and sumptuousness. The concept of luxury has been present in various forms and at various levels since the beginning of civilization. Luxury is not new to India. During the 1930s, 20% of Rolls Royce's global sales were from India.

A dazzling array of luxury brands is now wooing Indian consumers. According to India Luxury Review 2011, published by the Confederation of India Industry (CII) and A T Kearney, luxury consumption is growing at 20% per annum, and is not confined only to the big cities. The report also revealed that despite the high tariffs, the prices in India are on a par with those of Singapore, thus making domestic luxury purchases more practical. India's luxury market was expected to reach $14.73 bn by 2015 from an estimated $8.21 bn in 2011, with about 30% of the customers coming from smaller cities. The portfolio of spending categories for the average Indian more than doubled during the period from 1991 to 2007. In 1991, the average Indian spent on eight product categories, whereas in 2007 the number of categories increased to 17, and included mobile handsets, gifts and durables, among others.

Consumption patterns are different for people belonging to different sections of the society. On the one hand, for poor people, goods of basic necessities are of priority. On the other hand, for the middle class, besides spending on goods of basic necessities, they also spend on education of their children and lifestyle goods. The rich class spends more on lifestyle and luxury goods. Brands are a priority for them. As people acquire wealth, they tend to spend more on luxury goods.

Interestingly, demand for some goods is not affected by their prices. Luxury brands are expensive and thus are not only consumed for the product-related attributes, but are also consumed due to non-product attributes.

Several studies have identified uniqueness traits and fashion consciousness as important variables in luxury brand consumption (Dee and Eun Young, 2007; Bian and Forsythe, 2012; and Chen and Kim, 2013). However, there is a dearth of research from the Indian perspective. This research tries to examine the impact of consumer's uniqueness dimensions and fashion consciousness on their attitude towards luxury brands. Since India is one of the emerging markets for luxury marketers, the current study is apt, as it will help luxury retailers and marketers to understand the psyche of Indian consumers.

Literature Review

Concept of Luxury Brands

Phau and Prendergast (2000) defined luxury product as "perceived to be the extreme end of the prestige-brand category." They identified the following characteristics of luxury brands:

* They are exclusive.

* They have a well-known brand identity.

* Perceived quality is high and there exists increased brand awareness.

* Sales level and customer loyalty are retained.

Chadha and Husband (2006) defined luxury fashion products as "fashionable and high quality consumer goods made by reputed luxury brands". This definition is useful since it encompasses a wide range of products including apparels and accessories, as these goods are universally available and are recognized as luxury products (Ahmed et al., 2002).

Veblen (1899) was the first to discuss luxury consumption patterns by the 'leisure class' and concluded that consumers use luxury products to signal wealth and status, when consumed conspicuously. These goods are used as a hallmark for being recognized as belonging to the upper class of the society.

Consumers' Need for Uniqueness

Snyder and Fromkin (1980) worked on the uniqueness theory and concluded that individuals try to maintain moderate level of self-distinctiveness, since they perceive that extreme similarity or dissimilarity to the group is unpleasant. Snyder and Fromkin (1977) suggested that in similar situations, different individuals exhibit varying levels of need for uniqueness, which influences their purchase decisions. …

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