The Taste of the Ugly

Just like the advent calendar, ugly Christmas sweaters are one of the new end of the year themes. The phenomenon comes from a press probably tired of pages dedicated to holiday tables and questions like “Can we offer second hand gifts?” The topic is light, fun and speaks to everyone. The craze for ugly sweaters was born in the United States, like everything that is excessive, supposedly offbeat and on the border of trashiness, from Spring Breaks to Ice Bucket Challenges, including Crocs, XXL burgers and Harley Davidsons. Several US TV shows later, ugly sweaters have become a ritual in some start-ups, with the National Ugly Sweater Day encouraging employees to wear one.

That’s all it took for marketing to get hold of them. We can reasonably think that it’s only the beginning. Lidl was excellent at grasping the phenomenon by offering for sale, in mid-December, two models at 9.99 euros, frontally displaying the brand logo. The sweaters sold out immediately. If Leclerc intends to be the cheapest and if Carrefour “acts for good” without respite, we have to admit that Lidl is clearly the buzz leader and number one in “droping” short series. This is an ultra-relevant way to stand out from the crowd and to improve the brand image among new generations.

To conclude that these companies have a taste for ugly would be too quick. They are rather animated by the taste for good deals since everybody secretly hopes to resell their ugly sweater under the features of a collector. Not so obvious. The day when, in Germany, a pair of Lidl sneakers saw their resale value multiplied by a hundred was quite unique…

Never stingy with an explanation, some trendsetters see in it the sign of a “tuchisation” of our time and a form of compensation to our “eco-anxiety”. We can laugh about it. The reality is much more trivial. Perfused by social networks, our society has become eager for offbeatness, considered the ultimate proof of coolness and creativity, to the point of making it a new convention.

So What ?

Off-beat proposals always generate fans and no brand should forget that. Because they translate into vectors of differentiation and buzz on social media.

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