When counterfeits raise the appeal of luxury brands
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Counterfeiting is a widespread practice throughout the world. The conventional wisdom is that it affects branded goods negatively. In this paper, however, we suggest that counterfeiting may actually benefit certain luxury brands. By means of two studies, we show how the market presence of luxury counterfeit items can increase consumers’ willingness to pay for original brands. In Study 1, we show that the presence of luxury counterfeits can increase consumers’ willingness to pay for well-known original brands, but not for lesser-known ones. Brand awareness plays a moderating role in the positive relationship between counterfeiting and willingness to pay (WTP). In Study 2, we address the psychological mechanisms that explain this increased willingness to pay. The results show that consumers’ (a) pleasure at being envied, (b) pleasure in distinguishing themselves, and (c) perception of the quality of the original goods fully mediate the relation between the presence of counterfeit in the market and consumers’ WTP for originals. We subsequently discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of the two study results.
KeywordsFashion luxury goods Consumer behavior Counterfeiting Brand awareness Willingness to pay
The authors would like to thank the editor and the three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions. Finally, the authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the MIUR Grant PRIN 2008N579SS.
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