A deeper look into the industry of luxury goods shows that popular brands have begun to capitalize on the social media generation’s most unhealthy habits. One of these habits is social comparison, how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty in these domains.
Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Supreme, Off-White, Balenciaga, and Ralph Lauren; these are just to name a few, what a consumer would call a “Luxury Good.” These products can range from $1,000 for a Louis Vuitton sweatshirt to $995 for a pair of Balenciaga trainers.
When an average Instagram user goes on to their account, what types of posts will they be faced with? Maybe their friends and families recent activities. Maybe, but more influential celebrities, and their exuberant lifestyles. This bombardment of wealthy lifestyles puts millennials and Generation Z in constant contact with these extremely expensive goods and luxury goods companies.
In recent years the targeted demographic of these companies have begun to shift.
From 2014 to 2015, there was a 14% increase in millennial customers for luxury goods. Compared to the 5% increase in baby boomers according to Shullman Research Center.
The main avenue in which luxury good companies have obtained this new audience is through social media. With celebrities like Kanye West, the Kardashians, and Justin Bieber wearing these brands, it brings new levels of exposure but more alarming self-comparison. So when an impressionable or insecure millennial see’s they’re favorite rap artist wearing a new pair of $800 Gucci sneaker, their emotions may overweight their logic. Their insecurities allowing them to irrationally buy an outrageously priced pair of shoes.
This social comparison is a large factor in the recent explosion of these Luxury goods in pop culture. Psychology Today defines Social Comparison as “ a theory that states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others we perceive as somehow faring better or worse.”
Is it okay that these luxury companies have begun to capitalize, directly or indirectly, off of the negative effects of social media? How will social media affect these new generations that will grow up with apps like Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter? It’s not a secret that social media has begun to influence society in new ways, but how will business and everyday social interactions change in the coming decade is the question.