Marketing Letters

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 807–824 | Cite as

When counterfeits raise the appeal of luxury brands

  • Simona Romani
  • Giacomo GistriEmail author
  • Stefano Pace


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.


Fashion 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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business and ManagementLUISS Guido CarliRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Communication Arts and SciencesUniversity of MacerataMacerataItaly
  3. 3.Department of MarketingBocconi UniversityMilanItaly
  4. 4.Euromed Management, Domaine de LuminyMarseille Cedex 9France

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