I must confess, I did a double-take when I saw the display at the Shopper's Drug Mart in the Eaton Centre. I'm a soap and water girl myself, but due to my consumption of British popular culture (largely in chick lit and chick flick form), I instantly recognized the logo and the product. (Ain't globalization something?) Boots No. 7, now available in Toronto. Well, according to the linked flyer, Willowdale (do they still call it Willowdale? really?) and Scarborough - but it seems to have migrated to the downtown core.
This interests fascinates me. From what I can piece together, it must be related to the marketing phenomenon of masstige, also known as cheap chic. It is especially prevalent in the marketing of beauty products. Boots is a store brand, but the No 7 brand is marketed as a premium product, an affordable higher-end alternative to a name brand prestige product. And here in Toronto, I guess it has the added cachet of being from the UK. More about that in a minute.
From what I can see, prestige is very in right now. A lot of people want to be associated with luxury brands. For example, if I had a dollar for every real or knock-off (mostly knock-off, I'm sure) Coach and LouisVuitton handbag I see being carried on the subway and the bus in a year, I could probably hire a driver and a TownCar to take me to work every day and I'd never have to take transit again.
Another, almost certainly related trend I've noticed in the past few years is the number of Harrods shopping bags women are carrying around. Yes, that Harrods - the posh department store in London. The posh department store about 6,000 miles away from Toronto. I see mostly the tote bag variety, in canvas or in vinyl, but last weekend I saw the real deal - the distinctive dark green plastic "carrier bag" that you get when you actually buy something at Harrods. Evidently, there's a lot of women in Toronto who want to announce to the world at large that they are Harrods shoppers.
Like I said, I find all of this fascinating. Heh.
Maybe they'll bring back Marks and Spencer.