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The term affordable luxuries can be used to describe consumer goods that may be considered indulgences, but are nonetheless affordable to middle and working class consumers. In some cases, an affordable luxury is a product affiliated with a high-end brand that is sold at a lower price than some of the brand's other offerings. The term can also be used to describe goods and services that are not essentials like food, housing, and clothing, but that make life more pleasant and enjoyable. Many businesses use this concept of affordable luxuries in marketing their goods and services by attempting to encourage consumers to spend money on things that may increase the consumer's social prestige and make the consumer feel pampered and well cared for.
Some manufacturers of expensive goods recognize that there is money to be made outside their normal market segment, which, because they often cater to the wealthy, can often be relatively small. These companies produce affordable luxuries that allow middle-class consumers to purchase items that carry a luxury brand label. A good example of this sort of thing is the designer handbag. Many famous fashion designers create and sell clothing that is simply unaffordable to all but those who are very well off. They may, however, create a line of handbags that are expensive but affordable to someone who is capable of saving and spending a few hundred dollars. As handbags are typically more durable and stay in fashion longer than many garments, a consumer may be able to justify the purchase of the handbag while enjoying the status that owning and displaying affordable luxuries can bring.
An affordable luxury may also simply be an item or service that enhances the life of the purchaser and that is paid for out of a consumer's disposable income. For example, items such as gourmet coffee, loose leaf tea, and good wine are often sold at a higher price point than ordinary brands, but are still priced so that many people can afford them on a regular basis. Services that could be considered affordable luxuries would include things like professional manicures, laundry service, and massages. Some analysts have noted that there is a trend among some retailers to attempt to reframe certain brands as luxury items so as to play on the desire for affordable luxuries among consumers. This type of brand makeover may not actually involve improving the product but rather changing the product image in the minds of consumers.