Cultural backgrounds influence counterfeit attitudes; study

A perception that there are a lot of counterfeits of a brand in the market will reduce purchasing by Anglo-American consumers, but doesn't seem to affect those from Asia, according to a new study.

Researchers at Penn State Abington in the US led by Lei Song, assistant professor of marketing, looked at the consequences of "counterfeit dominance", the impression that counterfeit products possess more than 50 per cent of market share, among a sample group of 149 people.

They found that counterfeit dominance negatively affects the quality perception of authentic luxury fashion brands for Anglo-American, but not for Asian, consumers.

Perceptions seemed to be influences by social-adjustive attitude, in other words the likelihood that individuals rely on "outgroups" such as people on the street to form their opinions.

Anglo-Americans had weaker social-adjusted attitudes, meaning they were more likely to be swayed by outgroups – in this case that outgroups may consider their authentic brands as low-quality counterfeits, thus lowering the cache of owning a genuine item.

Asian consumers seemed to be less prone to social-adjustive attitude influence, as they are more likely to form opinions based on "ingroups," such as friends, rather than outgroups.

The study also found a close link between quality perception and purchasing intent, which is especially concerning for the luxury fashion industry as counterfeits account for one-quarter of total sales this category. Again, this was more pronounced among Anglo-Americans than Asian subjects.

"The studies not only found that counterfeit dominance affects quality perception and purchase intention for the same product category…but also for a different product category of the same brand," according to the researchers.

For example, counterfeit Burberry sunglasses affect perceptions of authentic Burberry scarves, indicating "that the detrimental effect of counterfeit dominance in the Anglo-American culture is exponential."

The researchers made several recommendations to support luxury goods producers including reducing news of counterfeit dominance in Anglo-American culture – although hiding the problem could be seen as being a disservice to a brand's customers – and working with enforcement to reduce dominance.

In Asian market, the emphasis should be on strategies such as word of mouth to influence consumers' peers to augment purchases, or offering group discounts, according to Song.

"Luxury fashion brand managers should segment their consumers by culture and develop different marketing strategies to remedy the loss of sales from counterfeit dominance," he concluded.

The research is published in the Journal of Business Research.

Image by XIESHOUTIANYA from Pixabay

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