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02.12.2022 | Original Empirical Research

Hideous but worth it: Distinctive ugliness as a signal of luxury

verfasst von: Ludovica Cesareo, Claudia Townsend, Eugene Pavlov

Erschienen in: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

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Abstract

Long-standing wisdom and academic research consistently agree that consumers choose attractive products and avoid ugly ones. And yet, multiple luxury brands successfully sell distinctively ugly products. This research provides an explanation, identifying distinctive ugliness as a signal of luxury and examining its impact on consumer choice. We explore this in seven studies, including a field study, a market pricing analysis, and five controlled laboratory experiments, three with consequential behavioral measures, incorporating a variety of fashion products, brands, aesthetic manipulations, and audiences. When products are from a non-luxury brand, consumers choose the attractive option and avoid the ugly. However, when from a luxury brand, consumers choose distinctively ugly products as often as attractive ones, not despite their ugliness but due to their ugliness and resulting ability to signal luxury. As such, brand prominence offers a boundary condition, as both a loud logo and distinctive ugliness serve to signal. Implications for both luxury and non-luxury brands are discussed.
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Fußnoten
1
Study 2 found a positive effect of ugliness for a luxury brand regardless of distinctiveness. However, given the overwhelming results from the other studies indicating the necessity of distinctiveness, we expect distinctiveness is necessary for the effect and caution brands from assuming ugliness without distinctiveness will have the same effect.
 
2
We thank an anonymous reviewer for pointing us toward this example.
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Hideous but worth it: Distinctive ugliness as a signal of luxury
verfasst von
Ludovica Cesareo
Claudia Townsend
Eugene Pavlov
Publikationsdatum
02.12.2022
Verlag
Springer US
Erschienen in
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Print ISSN: 0092-0703
Elektronische ISSN: 1552-7824
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-022-00913-3