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What are dupes? The term for popular product alternatives explained

There are a lot of great products in the world, especially in the world of tech, but the best of the best can often be quite expensive. That’s where dupes come in.

If you’re big into your TikToks, Instagram Reels or, even, a smidgen of YouTube, you’ll have likely seen the term “dupes” banded around quite a lot. It’s used by a veritable cornucopia of influencers and reviewers to cover an alternative product.

Still not completely clear on what “dupes” covers? We’re going to focus on the technology angle, and here’s our clear explanation of just what dupes are.

What are dupes?

In the context of buying products online, a dupe refers to alternative options and are typically a cheaper version from a less recognisable brand but often provide similar feature or improved value for money. Rather than the traditional definition of “dupe”, that being to deceive, this use of “dupe” is short for duplicate.

“Dupe” rose in popularity on TikTok in 2023 and started off as a term referring to fashion, such as “Uniqlo T-Shirt Dupe” or “Adidas Stan Smith Dupe” etc. The related TikToks would often feature the creator suggested alternative options at a lower cost or if the original product was difficult to purchase due to stock issues or location.

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The term has now expanded beyond fashion to include alternative restaurant recommendations to spreading across all kinds of online shopping like perfume, cars and more. You’ll now find recommendations along the lines of “best Chillys bottle dupe”, “best Ninja air fryer dupe” to “best beauty dupe” as well as plenty more. “Dyson Airwrap dupe”, “Skims dupe” and “baccarat rouge 540 dupe” are some of the top searches in this category. If you can think of an extremely popular product, it’s likely there’ll be coverage of it’s best “dupes” online now.

The expansion of the trend includes technology, with creators and consumers alike touting iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Amazon Kindle dupes and more. Here at Trusted Reviews, we have our own best MacBook alternatives guide.

The rise of the term coincides with many consumers facing a cost of living crisis and, as such, looking for alternatives to high-end and expensive brands that can do the job just as well.

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