Constructing luxury brands: exploring the role of consumer discourse

Stuart Roper, Robert Caruana, Dominic Medway, Phil Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to offer a discursive perspective on luxury brand consumption. Design/methodology/approach: Discourse analysis is used to examine how consumers construct their luxury brand consumption amidst countervailing cultural discourses in the market (Thompson and Haytko). Consumer discourse is generated through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Findings: In the context of countervailing discourses that challenge the notion of luxury (e.g. "masstige", "chav" and "bling"), respondents construct an ostensibly distinct and stable version of luxury expressing its subjective, experiential, moral and artistic constructs. Analysis demonstrates how these four themes operate at a linguistic-textual level to delineate important cultural categories and boundaries around luxury. Luxury brand discourse operates strategic juxtapositions between normatively positive (ideal) and normatively negative (problematic) categories, which are paradoxically interdependent. Research limitations/implications: A qualitative study of high-income residents from an affluent UK region is reported upon. The study is exploratory, focussing on interrelations between discourse, content and context. This invites future studies to consider contextual elements of luxury branding. Originality/value: The paper proposes a new way of thinking about luxury brands as a socially constructed concept. The paper concludes by arguing that luxury brand management necessitates a deeper appreciation of the mechanics of consumers' luxury discourses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-400
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


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