Media Relations 2020: Does Snobbery Actually Work?

In the world of viral marketing, the snob effect may seem dramatically out of touch with current trends. This marketing tactic builds a demand based on the pursuit of luxury and exclusivity, and is in sharp contrast to the bandwagon effect that sees people buying something because everyone else is.

In a world more media savvy and more concerned with saving their money, how can you use the snob effect to improve your marketing strategy? Does it still work, or is it out of date?

What Is The Snob Effect?

The so-called “snob effect” describes a situation where the demand for certain goods by those in a high income bracket is inversely related to the demand for the same goods by those of a lower income level. Basically, if a few people who are perceived as rich and powerful want a product or use a service, it makes those people in less powerful positions desire that product or service even more. This creates a demand for an often-expensive and unnecessary item.

People come up with different justifications for the purchase of unnecessary luxury items. They may believe that the more expensive something is, the better the quality. Or, they may buy into the idea of certain brands having a legacy that speaks to quality. But many of these items are sold at cut prices after their initial release, which devalues the object.

In reality, the air of exclusivity is a huge factor in how and why the snob effect works. The perception of quality is guaranteed with a price point, and people believe that they can purchase a lifestyle or element of elitism. Although those who fall victim to the snob effect are not those who can afford to live the lifestyle of someone in the upper echelons of society or a high income bracket, by buying the same products or services they can feel a connection to that world.

Good examples of the snob effect:

  • Gold-leaf menus
  • VIP lounges in exclusive clubs and events
  • Luxury sports cars like Ferrari and Jaguar
  • Original art or collector’s items

The British Royal Family is also a prime example of the snob effect in action. Before Queen Victoria allowed for more candid photographs, all photographs were posed portraits, and any glimpse into what the family was wearing, or what objects they surrounded themselves with was immediately considered desirable. Even to this day, anything worn by the younger royals or their children almost immediately sells out.

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