Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 479–494 | Cite as

Shame on You: When Materialism Leads to Purchase Intentions Toward Counterfeit Products

  • Alexander Davidson
  • Marcelo Vinhal Nepomuceno
  • Michel LarocheEmail author
Original Paper


In recent years, counterfeiting has grown exponentially and has now become a grave economic problem. The acquisition of counterfeits poses an ethical dilemma as it benefits the buyer and illegal seller at the cost of the legitimate producer and with fewer taxes being paid throughout the supply chain. Previous research reveals inconsistent and sometimes inconclusive findings regarding whether materialism is associated, positively or negatively, with intentions to purchase counterfeits. The current research seeks to resolve these inconsistencies by investigating previously ignored interactions between three variables: risk of embarrassment, counterfeit detectability and product conspicuousness. First, risk of embarrassment mediates the relationship between materialism and counterfeit purchase intentions. Specifically, materialism negatively predicts counterfeit purchase intentions as mediated by risk of embarrassment. Second, this relationship only holds when the counterfeit can be easily detected. When it is not easily detected, materialism instead leads to positive purchase intentions. Third, these positive effects can be offset when the product is not highly visible. This research has important implications for marketers, manufacturers and academics and contributes to better understanding the antecedents of counterfeit purchases.


Materialism Risk of embarrassment Intention to purchase counterfeits Product conspicuousness Counterfeit detectability 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Each author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.HEC MontrealMontréalCanada

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