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Counterfeit Luxuries: Does Moral Reasoning Strategy Influence Consumers’ Pursuit of Counterfeits?

Abstract

Morality, in the context of luxury counterfeit goods, has been widely discussed in existing literature as having a strong association with decreased purchase intention. However, drawing on moral disengagement theory, we argue that individuals are motivated to justify their immoral behaviors through guilt avoidance, thus increasing counterfeit purchase intention. This research demonstrates that consumers’ desire to purchase counterfeit luxuries hinges on (one of) two types of moral reasoning strategies: moral rationalization and moral decoupling. The empirical results show that each strategy increases purchase intention, but respectively through moral judgment and perceived benefit. Implications for researchers and managers are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

EFA:

Exploratory factor analysis

STATA:

(software)

CFA:

Confirmatory factor analysis

AVE:

Average variance extracted

CMV:

Common method variance

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Acknowledgments

This study is supported by research grants (71472124 and 71472076) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT13030).

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Correspondence to Lefa Teng.

Appendix

Appendix

Moral recognition measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    Counterfeit purchasing actions involved a moral issue.

Moral rationalization measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    It is alright to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands (moral justification).

  2. 2.

    It is not a bad thing to buy one or two counterfeits of luxury brands (euphemistic language).

  3. 3.

    Purchasing luxury brand counterfeits is not as bad as some of the other horrible things people do (advantageous comparison).

  4. 4.

    People should not be at fault for purchasing counterfeits of luxury brands because of the convenience of such behavior in recent society (displacement of responsibility).

  5. 5.

    People should not be at fault for purchasing counterfeits of luxury brands when so many other people do it (diffusion of responsibility).

  6. 6.

    It is unfair to blame such purchasing behaviors because it is probably the fault of business environments around us (displacement of responsibility).

  7. 7.

    It is okay to buy one or two counterfeits of luxury brands because it does not really do much harm (distortion of consequences).

  8. 8.

    It is not our fault to buy counterfeits of luxury brands because the price of authentic brands are too high (attribution of blame).

Moral decoupling measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    The immoral actions of purchasing counterfeits of luxury brands do not change my assessment of benefits provided by counterfeits.

  2. 2.

    Perceived benefits should remain separate from judgments of morality towards purchasing counterfeits of luxury brands.

  3. 3.

    Reports of wrongdoing should not affect our view of buying counterfeits.

Moral judgment measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    It is morally right to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands (moral equity).

  2. 2.

    It is acceptable for my family to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands (moral equity).

  3. 3.

    It is traditionally acceptable to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands (moral relativism).

  4. 4.

    It is culturally acceptable to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands (moral relativism).

  5. 5.

    It is tacitly promised to purchase counterfeits of luxury brands in recent business environments (moral contractualism).

Perceived benefit measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    The quality and price of luxury counterfeit.

  2. 2.

    Luxury counterfeits can bring you prestige.

  3. 3.

    Luxury counterfeits may function well.

Counterfeit purchase intention measures (1 = “completely disagree”; 7 = “completely agree”)

  1. 1.

    I would definitely intend to buy counterfeits.

  2. 2.

    I would absolutely consider buying counterfeits.

  3. 3.

    I would definitely expect to buy counterfeits.

  4. 4.

    I would absolutely plan to buy counterfeits.

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Chen, J., Teng, L. & Liao, Y. Counterfeit Luxuries: Does Moral Reasoning Strategy Influence Consumers’ Pursuit of Counterfeits?. J Bus Ethics 151, 249–264 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3255-y

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Keywords

  • Counterfeit purchase intention
  • Moral decoupling
  • Moral disengagement
  • Moral rationalization