Aspirational brand

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An aspirational brand is a term in consumer marketing for a brand or product which a large segment of its exposure audience wishes to own, but for economic reasons cannot. [1] [2]

The premise of this type of marketing is that purchase decisions are made at an emotional level, to enhance self-concept.[1]

Target audience[edit]

An important characteristic of an aspirational product is that the part of its exposure audience is at present economically unable to purchase it, but thinks of itself as being able to do so with a fair probability at a certain point in the future - see Premium pricing. [3] [4]

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.[by whom?] Consumption audience and aspirational audience together form the aspirational product's target audience, which typically represents 30%-60% of the exposure audience - see Audience measurement.

Weak aspirational brands have target audiences that are almost as large as their exposure audiences (e.g. MP3 player brands), and are thus slowly becoming commodity brands (whose consumption audiences coincide with their exposure audiences, thereby lacking an aspiring audience).[4]


As a general rule, an aspirational brand and its products can command Premium pricing in the marketplace over a commodity brand.[3] [4] This ability can to a large extent be explained by the consumer's need for conspicuous consumption for which he is willing to pay a Price 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. Mercedes-Benz cars.[3] To keep the premium level of a brand high, the consumption portion of the audience should not exceed 30% of the aspirational audience.[citation needed]


Researchers Niraj Dawar and Charan K. Bagga at Harvard University analyze market quadrants on a "X=Centrality (sales volume)/Y=Distinctiveness" scale, with Aspirational Brands occupying the most coveted quadrant, with high sales volumes and premium pricing. [4]

Aspirational models in fashion magazines[edit]

The "aspirational model" employed in fashion magazines is to offer readers continuing (and continually changing) fashion, beauty, and physical ideals they can aspire to, 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[edit]

Aspirational brand strategies are employed to re-position a brand within a marketplace. [2] 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 have to take great care in employing an aspirational brand strategy. [4] 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.[5]


  1. ^ a b Murray Hunter (2012-07-14). "What's with All the Hype – a Look at Aspirational Marketing". Norsensus Mediaforum. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  2. ^ a b Michael Hemsworth (2013-03-07). "Three Tips for Creating an Aspirational Brand Strategy". TREND HUNTER Inc. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  3. ^ a b c "Aspirational Brands - What Makes Them Succeed?". Asia Media. 2018-09-07. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  4. ^ a b c d e Niraj Dawar; Charan K. Bagga (2015-06-01). "A Better Way to Map Brand Strategy". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2020-09-03.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-10-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]