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How men interpret women’s luxury brand signals

Sin Man Lai (Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Gerard Prendergast (Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 8 November 2018

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019




Women’s conspicuous display of luxury brands is known to serve the purpose of sending signals to other women, but little is known about how men interpret those signals. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate how men interpret the signals sent by women displaying luxury brands.


An interpretivist approach and phenomenological methods were applied, involving interviews with selected men in Hong Kong.


The men interviewed suggested that if a woman’s overall image matches that of the brands she displays and the situation, luxurious brands can amplify the woman’s beauty and perceived class status. However, if these factors clash, men react negatively and tend to view the woman as engaging in impression management and pretending to have high social status unjustifiably.

Research limitations/implications

The sample for this phenomenological study was limited to Hong Kong men only. Culture must, almost by definition, influence men’s views toward women and branded products, so similar exploratory research in other cultures seems justified.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that marketers should offer “brand education” to help make their female consumers aware of the images their products are trying to establish, and what are the appropriate usage situations. Such consumer education would also reduce the risk of negative image transfer from the brand user to the brands.


The current understanding of female luxury brand signals is limited to female-vs-female intra-sexual competition. By examining how men interpret female luxury brand signals, this research addresses an important research gap.



On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


Lai, S.M. and Prendergast, G. (2019), "How men interpret women’s luxury brand signals", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 209-223.



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