As the UK continues to feel the pressure of the cost of living crisis and consumer confidence diminishes, the7stars’ QT reveals that Brits are making the necessary swaps and actively seeking deals to make their pounds stretch further. As 38% of Brits claim to reduce their spend on luxury items, the popularity of ‘dupes’ – i.e.  cheaper imitation products to luxury items– are having a moment.

During lockdown, beauty enthusiasts with extra free time gave rise to ‘skintellectuals’ –  beauty fans who sought greater control over the products they brought by educating themselves with the science behind products and their ingredients, allowing them to personalise products with their needs whilst foregoing inflated prices that come with big brand names. As lockdown drew to a close, the mindset persisted within consumers. Now, value based brands such as Aldi are capitalising on this by releasing a line of their own fragrances that duplicate the likes of Thierry Mugler’s ‘Angel’ and ‘Decadence’ by Marc Jacobs.

With word of mouth being a key player in the beauty and fashion space, influencers from all of TikTok, YouTube and Instagram have only allowed knowledge of dupes to spread like wild fire, giving rise to the ‘Buy this – not this’ trend on social media. By seeing influencers advocate for lesser known products and brands, consumers’ need to research products are cut short and are more willing to trust dupes quickly. Moreover, blogs and websites such as ‘Dupe Shop’ and ‘Finding Favourites’ also help guide shoppers into finding the right imitation products. This has meant that the popularity of dupes now span beyond beauty, spilling onto other non-essential items that Brits are finding hard to forego, such as luxury fashion and homeware. Now sellers such as DHGate are enjoying a lot of attention from bargain hunters on TikTok.

Besides the illegality of counterfeit luxury items, it also signals to consumers’ waning brand loyalty. Turned off with the idea of giving their hard-earned money to large corporations and brand names, cluttered markets such as beauty and fashion which offer many different options to the everyday shopper are seeing consumers prioritise their financial security and seeking the thrill of a bargain.

However, dupes also have their own shortcomings and are not a one sized fits all solution to all shoppers’ necessities. Besides the implications of quality issues, there is also a stigma with buying dupes, especially if they are visibly an imitation product.

What this teaches all brands, whether they are budget-based or high end – is that consumers’ priorities are shifting. Where quality, sustainability and brand reputation might have been important before, current economic and political climates are certainly morphing consumers’ shopping behaviours.

Sources: Canvas8, the7stars QT