By Jackie Wenskus and Natallia Bambiza

In a world where shoppers are likely to be enticed by the allure of luxury products but not necessarily their higher price tags, many consumers are left looking for less expensive alternatives that provide a similar result or experience. “Dupes” (short for duplicate), fulfill this demand. Today, dupes are celebrated – a mindset that has been largely accelerated by beauty product enthusiasts on TikTok.

From fashion and beauty to home décor and travel, dupes are gaining favor, particularly among younger consumers. Within the beauty industry, in particular, fragrance and makeup products stand out in the dupe craze as they provide a similar benefit to luxury products for a fraction of the price.

One bottle of a luxury or niche fragrance can cost several hundred dollars, which often prompts shoppers to seek lower cost options. While fragrance dupes have existed for years, thanks to #PerfumeTok and Gen Z’s attention, the popularity has grown significantly over the past year. Gen Z accounts for the strongest year-over-year increase in engagement within the fragrance category, according to Circana’s 2023 Fragrance Consumer Report. This generation is also twice as likely to be influenced to purchase a scent that is a dupe or inspired by a more expensive scent. For Gen Z, an expensive product does not always translate to better quality. In fact, more than half of Gen Z fragrance wearers feel that lower-priced alternatives or dupe fragrance brands are just as good as luxury branded scents.

Similarly, when it comes to makeup, dupes seem to be more appealing to younger consumers. While just over one-third of total makeup wearers lean into the dupe culture, this behavior is true for nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials, according to findings from Circana’s 2023 Makeup Consumer Report. These generations are also more likely to be influenced by social media. In 2023, for the first time ever, Gen Z identified social media as their top source of information for makeup products, and it is the second most popular source for Millennials. Makeup dupe videos have been amassing millions of views; however, while this type of content helps increase dupe acceptance and purchasing, the relationship between a dupe and the duped product in many cases seems to be symbiotic.

While there are brands benefiting for their likeness to popular luxury scents and color cosmetics, it is not necessarily at the expense of those being duped. In fact, luxury and prestige brands often benefit from the increased awareness and excitement generated by the dupe. While in some cases the consumer may trade down, others may opt to try both or even stick with the “original.” Thus, it’s important for luxury beauty brands to effectively communicate why their products are worth the investment – whether it’s through a focus on quality, craftsmanship, unique ingredients, or other distinct benefits.