Masstige brands or the problem of being the ham of the sandwich

Last month we organized an online survey asking about masstige brands. The survey was opened during two weeks.

Before results

  • We considered only 12 brands that were mentioned as masstige ones (with global presence) in different media
    • We excluded those brand that were, in a certain way, at the top and bottom pricing levels of the masstige category (if we can call it “˜category’). E.g.: Porsche Boxter or Sam Adams beer
    • We considered the following brands: Burberry. Codorníu, Commes des Garçons, Hermes, La Perla, Lladró, Majórica, Manolo Blahnik, Möet & Chandon, Swarovski, Tiffany and Vivienne Westwood. (Please, do not kill the messenger, we only took brands mentioned several times in different magazines, off and online, during the last four months)
  • There were 404 completed answers and 915 uncompleted (people left the survey before ending it)
  • Participants came from 25 countries
    • 50% of the answers came from Germany, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA
    • 30% of the answers came from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France and Italy
  • 90% of the people who answered were between 26 and 55 years old
    • 55% between 26 and 45
    • 35% between 46 and 55


It looks obvious that the main attributes recognized in these brands were: Prestige, luxury and elegance. What was not so obvious was that one out of five people did not know and/or couldn’t say anything about those masstige brands. The brands with high association to those key attributes were: Burberry, Hermes, Manolo Blahnik, Möet & Chandon and Tiffany.

Another interesting point about masstige brands, was that people perceived that they are becoming more massive. Exceptions to this point were: Hermes, La Perla, Manolo Blahnik and Vivienne Westwood.

Half of the participants believed that masstige brands are focused on adults (neither young people, nor grandma & grandpa). However, if we look at Spanish brands and answers coming from Spain, the results are perceptively different”¦ These brands are considered by them for older people. Also, they said that this sort of product is bought mainly as a gift.

Finally, almost 60% of the participants buy this kind of products more than once a year and at the brand store (neither duty free shops, nor department stores, shopping centres and/or multi-brand luxury shops); however, in their decision process, they consider other alternatives out of the masstige category. Actually, one out of four considers tech-products as an alternative (E.g.: Will I buy a Hermes tie or an iPad?).

What can we learn from this:

Results are clear enough; however, allow me to share with you some thoughts:

  • Like each and every category, the masstige category has strong brands in it, brands that are telling us that they are strong (although it is not necessarily true), that they are niche brands”¦ The issue is that when we asked about attributes and we proposed some linear simple answers, 20% of the people couldn’t assign any of them”¦ When the sandwich has a lot of bread, you lose the flavour of the ham
  • While half of the people believed/perceived that masstige brands continue being what they are, the other half believed that they are becoming more massive or more luxurious, and if they are more luxurious, they begin to be out of range (for purchase purpose)”¦ But this is a perception which in many cases has no relation to what happens in reality”¦ If the sandwich has a lot of ham it will look expensive, even when it’s cheap ham
  • Masstige brands are competing with other brands (and products) that are beyond the category boundaries”¦ when you want to eat something exquisite, you look for tasty food, not only sandwiches
  • Most of the masstige brand companies used to considered duty free shops, multi-brands luxury retails or department stores, their main distribution channel. But people want to enjoy a full experience with those brands, at their own stores”¦ If the ham is so good, don’t sell it at a 7/11, have your own “˜sandwich boutique’

Masstige brands are like the ham of the sandwich”¦ Although we are talking about excellent ham, it is still in the middle of the bread. If the brand belongs to a certain developed category where similar mass market and premium products are thought attractive, the masstige product will be recognized and considered as it should be “¦ If not, it is too much bread for a thin slice of ham”¦

A final thought or perhaps a question”¦

Could we consider in the same situation all things that are in the middle? People, neighbours, banks’ affluent clients, countries?…

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<a href="" target="_self">Cristian Saracco</a>

Cristian Saracco

About the author

Founding Partner | Allegro234 Founding Member | The Flow Collective Full Member | Medinge Group Member Editorial Committee | Branders Magazine

May 18, 2010

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