Dupe products have been stealing the spotlight across social media and at retail. The concept of a dupe product is nothing new in the retail world. What is different is today’s acceptance of dupes and the expansive reach of the concept. Dupes are no longer taboo, it’s now cool to be able to say you found a high-end look-alike at a lower price or a hard-to-find item without the hassle. 

Today’s dupe trend isn’t about knockoff products with fake designer labels. Rather, it is all about making something that captures the consumer’s attention more easily attainable. Dupes can be based on style and design or on features and functionality. Anything that is in demand is primed for a dupe, from handbags, dresses, and fragrances to hairdryers, décor, and food.

There are still consumers who want, and will spend on, the high-end product; is willing to wait in line at the most exclusive restaurant; or is a die-hard brand loyalist. There are also plenty of consumers who value the appeal and indulgence of a luxury product but who don’t have a luxury budget — enter the dupe. The popularity of this craze emphasizes the consumer’s increasing quest for value across retail and beyond. Trading down with a dupe doesn’t feel so bad. Instead, it allows the consumer to feel like they are still in control of spending even when they have less to spend.

The dupe trend brings both opportunity and challenges to manufacturers and retailers. Car makers often copy design elements and features of other brands or make lower-price versions of their own high-end vehicles. Luxury brands need to decide if they want to stay true to their high-end roots and risk losing to a dupe from an alternative source or if they want to find new ways to grow by creating lower-price versions of their own products.  

Who are your consumers? Who do you want to attract? Understand these two things, and then deliver your value proposition accordingly. Be prepared though: If you get the consumer’s attention, you will also get your competition’s attention. As Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” but it’s also an opportunity for someone else to cash in on your success.

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