Dupes! Dupes everywhere!
If you’re unaware (in which case your wallet will thank me later for what I’m about to tell you), a dupe is a comparable and cheaper alternative to a high end product. It’s consumer nature to seek out the best value for money—I, for example, only get my hair done after waiting the maximum number of days possible before my hair needs washing so as to milk the benefits of using their products (sorry to every hairdresser ever)—but have you ever wondered about the science behind dupes? If not, stop reading now, because I’m about to get all marketing-techy up in here (thanks, uni).
In the end, it all comes down to looks, preference, and perception. (No package-shaming here please, every package is beautiful. #packagepositivityweek) Reber et al (2004) propose that beauty is how fluently we perceive aesthetic pleasure as we process it from stimuli, which results in experience and judgement. This speaks to how we decide whether to try a dupe or not based on how we judge products that look similar. Deep, right?
Two main factors are behind the concept of dupes: stimulus generalisation and stimulus discrimination. Stimulus generalisation is the idea that learning relies upon responding the same way to stimuli that are similar, such as purchasing a product based on its packaging being similar to hero products (Schiffman et al 2014). Stimulus discrimination, on the other hand, is the opposite: it’s our ability to pick out specific stimuli among similar stimuli—this is the basis of product positioning (Schiffman et al 2014). So, brands that make dupes want us to generalise by associating their product with leading brands’ packaging, whilst said leading brands wish to help their consumers to discriminate.
A perfect example of a brand wanting us to discriminate is the beautyblender—the little makeup sponge that’s taken over beauty world in recent blogger history. Yes, it’s just a sponge, but if a sponge could be beautiful, this is what that sponge would look like. The beautyblender company (2016) says that their ‘original’ sponge “Eliminates lines and streaks that other sponges and imitators leave behind.” Other brands wish us to generalise so we buy their sponge instead—I personally almost bought a Mecca Maxima brand lookalike before purchasing my beautyblender, simply because it was the same shade of bright pink.
If you’ve tried any beauty dupes you love, please let me know, because I’m a student with an eye for pretty, shiny things I can’t afford.
May your coffee cup be full and never make your hands shake whilst applying eyeliner.
beautyblender 2016, beautyblender defined, beautyblender, viewed 12 May 2016, <http://www.beautyblender.com/beautyblender-defined/>.
Reber, R, Schwarz, N & Winkeilman, P 2004, ‘Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver’s Processing Experience?’, Personality and Social Psychology Review, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 364-382.
Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A, & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson, Australia.