Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Love for Luxury, Preference for Counterfeits -A Qualitative Study in Counterfeit Luxury Consumption in China

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Love for Luxury, Preference for Counterfeits -A Qualitative Study in Counterfeit Luxury Consumption in China

Article excerpt


The aim of this study is to deepen the understanding of luxury counterfeit consumption by using the theories of luxury. This study is an interpretative qualitative research in which the social and personal meanings of luxury counterfeit consumption are explored. Both luxury and counterfeit provide a successful meaning transference. A good counterfeit can be regarded as the substitute good of luxury, which provides social meanings (conformity/status seeking/face saving), whereas it may also operate on a personal level (brand experience/fashion/adventure). The process of purchasing and consumption is fun and enjoyable due to the illegal nature of counterfeit. The research aspires to shed light on the essence of counterfeit in a brand perspective.

Keywords: counterfeiting, brands, consumer behavior, China

1. Introduction

How often do you see a dubious Louis Vuitton handbag or a pair of Prada sunglasses on sale in the street markets? The significant growth of luxury consumption over the past years has been accompanied with a dramatically rise of counterfeit. Consumer decisions to purchase fakes instead of originals have developed into a worldwide crisis. The counterfeit market is responsible for at least 200 billion dollars a year in lost jobs, taxes and sales (Furnham & Valgeirsson, 2007). China has been acknowledged as the famous "made in" for counterfeit products, where all type of fake can be traced (Bian & Veloutsou, 2007; Cheung & Prendergast, 2006; Hung, 2003). These products lay over a vast range of goods including apparel electronics, foodstuff, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics products, and others. In particular, as the Chinese are avid consumers of luxury goods (Li & Su, 2007; Sonmez & Yang, 2005; Wong & Ahuvia, 1998), the counterfeit of luxury brands has reached astronomical levels.

In a Confucian society context, Chinese consumers behave more irrationally in luxury purchase because luxury brands are something "must to have" for them to reinforce their social status. However, the wealth distribution is extremely unjust and the country has one of the largest gaps between the rich and the poor in the world according the statistics data from the World Bank. For most of them, the desire for luxury brands is not achieved due to the lack of affordability to exorbitant price tags of original luxury brands. Hence, the counterfeit manufacturer argue that their production are satisfying the demand of those consumers who unable or unwilling to pay for the originals (Lai & Zaichkowsky, 1999). The consumer demand for counterfeit has raised substantial research. The attitude-intention behavior model has been vast studied. However, the explanations provided on the motivation of luxury counterfeit and the association between original luxury and counterfeit luxury consumption are still missing.

Given that the market for counterfeit luxury brands relies on consumers' desire for real luxury brands(Hoe, 2003; Penz & Stöttinger, 2005), it is critical for researchers to study the reasons why consumers purchase the fake brand from their perception of real brand, and whether their perception of luxury brand will affects their counterfeit consumption. This is where our paper focuses: based on twenty-fives interviews with the luxury counterfeit consumers, we provide to study the counterfeit consumption into a brand perspective. We aim to explore the brand interpersonal and personal effect in the counterfeit luxury brand consumption, to better understand the reason why consumers buy and own fakes. As such, we contribute to define a set of key drivers of interpersonal and personal meanings in counterfeit products. The connection of luxury brand and counterfeit luxury brand will be highlighted that help to reduce the complexity of counterfeit consumption and enrich the literature.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Counterfeit Definition

Generally the brand of an enterprise is its most valuable asset. …

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