Masstige and the Digital Age: Trends From Australia

October 18, 2014
October 18, 2014 Chris Riddell

Masstige and the Digital Age: Trends From Australia

Using Prestige to Sell Your Products

As Australia’s middle-class continues to grow, the consumer trends of this group seem to be moving in a very definite direction: embracing mass-market products with a desirable level of prestige or status attached to them. Whether it’s the latest smartphone, tablet, or cosmetics brand, people want their products to have cache – a certain cool inherent in the brand. Fuelling this change is the digital marketplace, and how both hardware and software plays into people’s growing desire for the next ‘in’ brand or item. Furthermore, even with non-technology based prestige products, such as fashionable clothes brands or stylish furniture designs, the way in which these items are manufactured and marketed is now inextricably linked to new advances in how consumers find and buy their desired items in the digital age.

But why is this happening? And how can businesses capitalise on this trend?

First, it’s to do with the aforementioned growth in middle-class populations.


The Middle-Class and Buying Power

The middle-class worldwide population is growing at an astonishing rate. Estimated projections show that by 2030, individuals within this economic group will reach a staggering 4.9 billion in number. When considering that in 2009 this number was only 1.8 billion, that tells a story in of itself. The general standard of living is increasing, especially in developing countries, and as economies stabilise, more people will find themselves with decent amounts of disposable income. Even in Australia, a well-developed country with a long-standing economic infrastructure, the middle-class population continues to rise. More so, as a country it is deeply connected to the buying power of its neighbours, and with Asia’s middle-Class population increasing at record rates, this could provide a lucrative marketplace for Australian companies to sell their products and services.

This is what is ushering many people’s buying habits towards specific types of product or service – disposable income increases on an international scale. But what types of products are middle-class shoppers looking to buy? And how can businesses use this knowledge to increase their conversion rates?

It’s all about Masstige.


Masstige and Status Products

It may be a piece of marketing jargon, but it’s one which every business should use. Masstige refers to any product which is mass-produced and has an element of prestige associated with it. It doesn’t have to be a necessarily expensive product, but it does have to be viewed by consumers as luxury, rare, or special in some form. This is what middle-class shoppers are buying – affordable products with an element of cool or status attached to them.

In the past, mass-production was rarely associated with luxury, usually denoting something which was commonplace or easy to obtain. Items had prestige associated with them simply because they were difficult to buy, in limited numbers, or too expensive for most. But over the last decade companies such as Apple have been able to mass-produce products which are available in most regions, yet with a desirability built in which is separate from old concepts of supply and demand. It doesn’t matter how many iPhones are out there, people want to buy them, and it is the middle-class which does so to a greater degree due to a higher level of disposable income.

The question is: how does a company build masstige into their products?

In the end, it’s down to branding.


Branding is Everything

The importance of building a brand cannot be understated, especially when related to masstige. In order for a mass-produced product to have prestige attached to it, there has to be a move away from old ideas of scarcity and price being the foundations of consumer interest. It has to be about that certain je ne sais quoi – an element which makes a product truly special.

Essentially, there are two approaches to creating masstige in a contemporary marketplace:

  1. Create a product which fills a need for the consumer in an innovative and unique way, one which has a ‘cool’ factor attached to it.
  2. Develop a fashionable and popular brand which is instantly associated to a product, providing a level of prestige regardless of function or form.

In the modern marketplace advertising experts will always look to build their client’s brand as it is the most effective way to create prestige around a product. By creating a brand, businesses can ensure that they survive for longer than one successful design or item; instead each product they release is instantly given the prestige associated with the company.

Of course building a brand can only be done with an initial product which fulfils the first criteria, creating trust in the consumer and encouraging them to adopt future products. This is exactly what Apple has done with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and upcoming iWatch. Apple’s products are known for being easy to adopt and useful; however, it has been in creating a level of prestige around the Apple brand which has led to the company’s greatest achievements, a ‘must have’ dynamic. Ironically, much of this success was built on the Mac and PC platforms competing with one another in the 90s. Mac always had a much smaller user-base, but that itself created prestige, a feeling amongst its users that they were part of a select few. This is the same strategy Samsung took before becoming one of the world’s most successful smartphone providers – create a brand based on exclusivity, and the associated prestige will be maintained as a product becomes mainstream.

It is this ‘need’ for a product which spurs the middle-classes on to buy a product. How it makes them look to others, and how it makes them feel in terms of validity and worth, which makes masstige such an important part of today’s consumer trends across Australia and beyond.

But how best to engineer masstige?

In today’s marketing climate, the best way to create this sense of masstige is through digital promotion.

Using Digital Platforms to Create Masstige

The most effective way to create masstige through brand-building is to engage with consumers through social media. It’s low-cost, and can help create a ‘must buy’ attachment as people see their friends and family interacting with a product or service, creating a desire to ‘not be left out’. Prestige is all about perceived value in a brand or specific commodity, and that is often created by consumers themselves, with the help of some clever social media marketing. The more people buy into a product and share their experiences on social media, the more others will want to experience the same thing.

By building interest within online communities, businesses will bring consumers closer to their brands and take advantage of the instant buy, and accessibility, of contemporary digital sales platforms such as smartphone marketplaces, Amazon, eBay, or a company’s in-house delivery system.

As the middle-class demographic grows, it will be imperative for businesses to increasingly create masstige for their products, or they could very well find themselves left behind. Ask yourself, does your brand have prestige?











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