|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2007)|
In consumer marketing, an aspirational brand (or product) means a large segment of its exposure audience wishes to own it, but for economical reasons cannot. An aspirational product implies certain positive characteristics to the user, but the supply appears limited due to limited production quantities.
An important characteristic of an aspirational product is that the part of its exposure audience that is at present economically unable to purchase it, thinks of itself as having a fair probability of at a certain point in the future being able to do so. This part of the exposure audience is referred to as the aspirational audience, whereas the part of the exposure audience that already can afford the product is called the consumption audience. Consumption audience and aspirational audience together form the aspirational product's target audience, which typically represents 30%-60% of the exposure audience
Weak aspirational brands have target audiences that are almost as large as their exposure audiences (e.g. mp3 player brands), and are therefore slowly becoming commodity brands, e.g. brands with consumption audiences that coincide with the exposure audience (and therefore, brands without an aspiring audience).
As a general rule, an aspirational brand and its products can command a price premium in the marketplace over a commodity brand. This ability can to a large extent be explained by the consumer's need for invidious consumption for which he is willing to pay a premium. The smaller the size of the product's target audience compared to the exposure audience, the more the product satisfies this need, and the higher the premium that such a consumer is prepared to pay.
The larger the ratio of aspirational to consumption consumers in the target audience, the higher the brand's premium, e.g. Maybach cars. To keep the premium level of a brand high, the consumption portion of the audience should not exceed 30% of the aspirational audience.
Aspirational brand or model: fashion magazines
In the context of fashion magazines, the "aspirational model" offers readers continuing (and continually changing) fashion, beauty, and physical ideals to which they can aspire but, perhaps, never actually achieve. Criticized for this approach, magazine editors have claimed that their readers do not want to see "real-life" models or the way that beauty products and clothes look on "real women"; that they buy the magazines in the first place because they prefer the aspirational fantasies, and in the second, because they continually hope that by following the advice or buying the products, they will achieve the ever-changing looks that the magazine promotes via the models and photographic/technological wizardry.
Aspirational brand strategy
Aspirational brand strategies are strategies designed to reposition a brand within a marketplace. The idea is that brand can lead organizational change and lead consumer opinion about a brand. Aspirational brand strategies are used when the current image of the brand is either negative or no longer relevant to the company.
Companies should use great care in employing an aspirational brand strategy. The company needs to be structured around truly delivering on the promise and must have employees who understand the brand goals and actively and daily work to achieve them. BP learned the dangers of aspirational branding during the summer of 2010 during the BP/Deepwater Oil Spill disaster. As the article BP: Disingenuously Branding explains, the aspiration of the company to be environmentally friendly and "Beyond Petroleum" backfired in a big way.
Specialty goods vs. aspirational brand
A specialty good could have been an aspirational good at one point of time, but this is not always true. In buying of a specialty good, very high involvement comes in. An aspirational good is a good that covers a large segment of its exposure audience who wishes to own it, but for economical reasons cannot and thinks of itself as having a probability of buying it at a certain point in the future. The aspirational audience is always a super set of actual consumption audience. A consumer of specialty good is exposed to market and is the actual user of that special product. He might be or not had been ever aspired for that product. Hence, speciality good becomes the subset of aspiration good. Whether a good is a shopping good or a specialty depends on the consumer background of his/her socio-economic background he/she comes from. For a daily wage earner at a construction site, a packet of cigarette or a water cooler at home in summers will be a specialty good, whereas for a rich businessman, who has the purchasing power, a luxurious car will be a specialty good as he/she will go any length to buy that particular car, not bothering about the location of the car showroom. A specialty good entails a high degree of customer loyalty; the effort at shopping, therefore, does not involve comparing one brand against another but finding a store that carries the item in question. Buyer invests time in reaching the dealer and ultimately buying that car of his choice and hence, these dealers need not be conveniently located. An aspiration good has a brand associated with it whereas, a speciality good will can have only the characteristics of a certain product a consumer has in his/her mind. For an instance, A consumer wants to own a SUV, then that SUV is a speciality good if he has the power to buy that car and if he/she only wants to buy an SUV by Mercedes, which he cannot afford, then that becomes an aspirational good.Examples of a specialty goods can be designer clothes, high-end cars, exotic perfumes, famous paintings, certain types of sporting equipment, photographic equipment, whereas aspirational goods are the ones which the consumer wants to own but is not able to do the same due to very high prices with respect to his socio- economic background he/she belongs to.