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The symbolic meaning of luxury-lite fashion brands among younger Chinese consumers

Ye Wang (Department of Communication Studies, University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA)
Fei Qiao (School of Journalism and Communication, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China)

Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management

ISSN: 1361-2026

Article publication date: 17 March 2020

Issue publication date: 22 April 2020




The purpose of this study is uncovering the connotative and symbolic meaning of “luxury-lite brands” [轻奢].


Applying mixed methods, this study conducted two studies: (1) a semiotic analysis of a focus group discussion and 10 interviews on luxury-lite brands and (2) a content analysis of 248 Weiblog posts from 10 luxury-lite brands in a two-month period.


Study 1 showed that luxury-lite brands are interpreted as foreign brands that serve people's needs for social presence, and symbolize youthfulness, tastefulness, and aspirations. Other descriptors of luxury-lite brands included unique design, and less than the best quality offered by luxury brand. Study 2 suggested brands are missing out on a wide range of stories that resonate with their core segments in their social media advertising.

Practical implications

Based on the definition of luxury-lite brands in the context of China proposed by the researchers, we recommend that managers broaden topics of stories, make more effort to create desirable symbolic brand meaning, and use social media to excite these young crowds.


Luxury-lite brands have been a cultural sign in the Chinese market projected to grow into an over 90 billion USD business by 2025. Therefore, an insightful understanding of the masstige market of China is a must for any Western masstige brand to be successful and competitive.



This study is supported by the research project of 2017 Guangzhou Center for Innovative Communication in International Cities in Guangzhou's 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Philosophy and Social Science under Grant No. 2017-JD-01.


Wang, Y. and Qiao, F. (2020), "The symbolic meaning of luxury-lite fashion brands among younger Chinese consumers", Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 83-98.



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