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Revealing Victoria's Secret: A hermeneutic exploration of female New Luxury consumers

Elad Granot, University of Massachusetts Amherst


As a social phenomenon, the elitist, snobbish and conspicuous nature of luxury in Europe and early America, described in Veblen's (1899) "Theory of the Leisure Class," has transcended into a democratized new luxury in the United States. This new luxury empowers a larger portion of the population to fulfill their consumption fantasies. The most extraordinary change is from conspicuous consumption to ubiquitous inconspicuousness. This and other changes are continuing to impact marketing strategy, brand management, product development and the retail environment, presenting opportunities for marketing researchers. A Hermeneutic examination, using Seidman's (1998) three-interview series model, was conducted among consumers of the iconic New Luxury (Fiske and Silverstein, 2002) brand, Victoria's Secret. This examination aims to describe a slice of life, as opposed to a slice of science, and allow a better understanding of what it is like to form brand attachment and loyalty in the context of New Luxury. Women, who have been working more, earning more, and marrying later in life, provide an appropriate participant pool to demonstrate how the concept of "old" luxury has changed in contemporary America. This examination presents five dimensions of consumers' meaning-making processes. These afford Victoria's Secret a unique position in the market, as well as in consumers' lives. In the market, it is perceived as prestigious and commands a significant premium despite being ubiquitous and accessible to all. In consumers' lives, it takes a unique position of an emotional brand that is highly functional, thereby differentiating itself from both categories simultaneously. The study's findings point to the obsolescence of "Luxury" in contemporary markets and research contexts, and suggest future reexamination of luxury in light of paradigm shifts among markets, consumers, and marketers. This research describes and discusses the advantages of qualitative methods in marketing research and consumer research. Specifically, issues of researching female consumers not as prey for marketers but as an influential market player, and the implementation of hermeneutics in consumer research (Arnold and Fischer, 1994) are addressed and encouraged. Finally, this research urges conducting academic research geared toward application by practitioners in addition to developing, classifying and testing theoretical concepts.

Subject Area

Marketing|Social psychology|Management

Recommended Citation

Granot, Elad, "Revealing Victoria's Secret: A hermeneutic exploration of female New Luxury consumers" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3215900.