Royalty: marketplace icons

Cele Otnes, Pauline Maclaran

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The term “royalty” connotes people who either occupy the role of monarchs in society, or who are related to these figures by blood or marriage. Although many royal houses around the world occupy a symbolic/ceremonial rather than a political role, royalty and the “human brands” royal families contain remain important sources of aspirational and conspicuous consumption. In this essay, we focus on how the British Royal Family Brand (BRFB; Otnes, Cele C. and Pauline Maclaran. 2015. Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.) has remained the most visible and impactful royal variant in the world, even as its economic and political influence, and that of Britain, has waned. We discuss the influence of the BRFB in fueling consumption practices pertaining to commemorative purchasing and collecting, heritage management, perpetuating mass and social media narratives, supporting and perpetuating brands, and spawning and maintaining touristic trends. We observe that successful royal influence is due in part to the ability to leverage key universal narratives (e.g. the triumph of the underdog) and to tap into consumers’ desires to vicariously or actively engage with lifestyles typically accessible only to people who occupy the highest social stratum in their respective cultures. We discuss the implications of royalty on consumer culture, and suggest areas of future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalConsumption, Markets and Culture
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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