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Why brands should worry about conspicuous consumption: The curious case of ‘W’.


I point out to the missus that Kurtas from Brand W are available on Flipkart at bargain prices. I tell her it’s probably the best (lowest) it can get for W’s prices. Missus isn’t impressed. I am surprised. After all, I’ve seen a few Ws in the wardrobe. So why isn’t she taking the bait? Turns out, the patterns on the Kurtas aren’t unique anymore, and it seems the teeming masses are all wearing the same styles from W making it even more commonplace. Now that’s a no-no to all those who don’t want their personal image to ‘drown’ amongst the crowds. To put it differently, if you are trying to stand out, and hoping your kurta brand (or any other piece of apparel you’ve draped yourself with) will enable you to do that, maybe W is not the one you should patronize. At least that seems to be the line, according to the missus.

Which brings me to my point for today; what should all the conspicuously consumed brands that you take to, do for you (if you wanted them to)? In Jungian language, that question should be rephrased as, what persona should the conspicuous brands you patronize be able to build and display for you? The answer; aid you to spin and adorn an image you aspire for in public social settings. Marketing and Economics will tell you anything aspirational needs to be rare. The more commonplace something is, the less it is desired.

From a business and marketing perspective, I get W’s dilemma. Scaling up and spreading stores and merchandise all over helps in leveraging scale economies to lower costs. However such spreads gnaw away at the aspirational identity a brand tries to endow on itself. If W is for women, I’d advise the brand to listen what my missus is saying (more so, considering they want to be a ‘lifestyle’ brand).

If the brand takes heed, it should cut back on lot sizes of a particular design, and churn out more variety at limited quantities. Oh and yes, it should get to doing that, pronto!

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