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By Kate LaGrandeur, Assistant Account Executive

If you spend as much time on TikTok as I do, the chances are high that you’ve encountered the phenomenon of “dupes”. It’s just a striking way of saying “duplicate”, and the trend has gained popularity on TikTok recommendation videos as a budget-friendly alternative to the latest and greatest, more expensive must-haves.

In the past people have often tried to hide their dupes, but now promoting and sharing these dupes has grown into a prominent trend, specifically among beauty and fashion influencers. In sharing links to these designer duplicates, these influencers are often making money promoting the dupes, and this has led to an influx in dupe products and promotion.

So, what are these brands being duped doing to remain ahead of the game? In my opinion, a campaign late last year by haircare brand Olaplex perfectly shows how these duped brands can acknowledge and counter their duplicate counterparts.

With its hair care products being one of TikTok's most frequently duped items, the brand played the ultimate prank with their ‘Oladupé’ campaign. The brand engaged over 100 influencers to unbox what seemed like a new product, ‘Oladupé,’ and led viewers to go to the Oladupé website to sign up for this new product.

The catch? Oladupé was not a dupe; it was later revealed to be the actual Olaplex product in disguise, showing that the only one who can dupe Olaplex is the brand itself! The first 160 people who fell for the ruse got the last laugh with a genuine gift of the original Olaplex product.

Lululemon, the workout fashion gurus, also took a swing at the dupe game. Following the popular Amazon dupe of their popular £90 leggings, Lululemon countered with a good-natured “Dupe Swap.” They hosted a pop-up party in one of their Los Angeles stores, where folks could trade their fake leggings for the real deal. All while educating consumers on why the real deal is worth every penny.

These stories are not just about products; they’re about brands having a playful interaction with their audience, online and in person. Instead of taking a tough stance against dupes and cracking down on the duplicators, they’ve managed to become part of the conversation, and demonstrate the value of buying the real thing. By listening to their audience and having their finger on the social media pulse, they successfully turned the dupe dilemma into a meaningful opportunity to connect and engage with their customers.

This trend of dupes has not only captivated social media but is also gaining traction in mainstream media. A quick Google search will reveal over 100 articles in just the last week discussing the topic. Safe to say we are placing our bets on Oxford Dictionary adding an update to their definition of dupe in the very near future!

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