BBS PhD Symposium 23rd & 24th March 2009 – Joshie Juggessur Title: An Investigation into the Antecedents Influencing Women to Purchase Genuine Luxury Designer and Counterfeit Luxury Designer Brands Abstract This paper focuses on the demand side of genuine luxury designer handbags and counterfeit luxury designer handbags. The fashion industry is a multimillion pound industry and many consumers use branded commodities as a means of creating an identity. The consumption of genuine luxury designer brands can hold high social meaning. In order to fully understand the context of fashion a review into the social, attitudinal, individual, behavioural and emotional factors aims to provide insight into the role of fashion and the antecedents of consumers opting for genuine versus counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands. It concludes with insights into the context and methodology of the study.
Introduction This research seeks to explore the concept of fashion and how the handbag has evolved into a fashion phenomenon. This research centres on exploring the antecedents influencing women in London who either purchase genuine or/and counterfeited luxury designer handbag brands. The consumption of genuine luxury designer brands can exhibit social significance, allowing consumers to express to others and themselves their individual and social characteristics through material possessions. Many consumers knowingly purchase nondeceptive counterfeits. Most of the literature on counterfeits has primarily focuses on price being the main contributing factor leading to the purchase of counterfeits. Little consideration has been given to collectively investigating the social, attitudinal, individual, behavioural and emotional antecedents, as well as there being no research investigating women and their purchase intentions towards genuine luxury designer handbag brands and
counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands. This paper begins with an investigation into the definition of fashion and continues with an exploration into the definition of genuine luxury designer brands and counterfeits and proceeds to investigate the consumption of fashion and counterfeits. The paper concludes with the chosen methodology techniques.
Defining Fashion The precise definition of ‘fashion’ proves to be challenging, manly due to the various historical subtext; the meaning and understanding of fashion has altered in order to comply with clothing practices and norms of people belonging to different social constructs. Referring to fashion to be an article of clothing only blurs the concept, fashion is an intangible conception. As Kawamura (2005) states “fashion does provide extra added values to clothing, but the additional elements exist only in people’s imaginations and beliefs”. Therefore fashion is perplexed and can be transferable to tangible garments and accessories which can be translated to be ‘fashionable items’. Fashion consists of values, notions and is individual to every person.
Fashion Brand There seems to be a gap in research investigating the branding of genuine luxury designer brands. The branding of genuine luxury designer brands can be traced back to mid-nineteenth century Paris, when couturier Worth designed apparel for the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie (Tungat, 2004). Before Worth developed his brand, dressmakers essentially copied gowns that their affluent clientele had seen in illustrated journals or at social meetings. The fashion house “Coco” Chanel emphasised the notion of “lifestyle branding” and supported this via their branding
communications in the 1920’s. Chanel acknowledged two characteristics of branding, firstly, the significance of fashion brands being linked with favourable lifestyle images. Secondly, that the ownership of particular “lifestyle” luxury designer brands should not being easily acquired by every customer.
Defining Genuine Luxury Designer Brands Given the extent of the numbers of consumers that purchase “genuine luxury designer brands”, there is fairly little literature concentrating on this area. Instead there seems to be a budding amount of research on the concept of ‘luxury’ and ‘prestige’ brands, although this is also still lacking in breadth. The terms “prestige” and “luxury” are the most commonly used synonyms (Bagwell and Bernhcim, 1997). The term genuine luxury designer brand will be used throughout this paper and refers to brands that hold considerable intangible worth, have enduring positive brand images deemed as being at the forefront of design, quality and status.
Defining Counterfeits Counterfeited products have several names such as fake, copy and knock-off. Counterfeit goods are divided into two categories: (1) deceptive counterfeiting, occurs when consumers assume that she/he is purchasing a genuine branded product, which then turns out to be a fake, (2) nondeceptive counterfeiting, occurs when consumers recognise that the branded product is not authentic. The purchaser is made aware of this by specific information cues, such as quality, purchase location, price or materials used to make the products (Grossman and Shapiro, 1988).
Consumption of Fashion
Many individuals’ buy and display high fashion brands as status symbols. Levy (1959, pp.118) states, “people buy products not only for what they can do but also for what they mean.” Humans are capable of assigning feelings and meaning to inanimate objects, which highlights the possibility that the allure of brands and branding is not completely rational (O’Malley, 1991).
Is it viable to say that fashion has contributed to the manifestation of counterfeit brands? The underlying notion of fashion is that certain defined products; brands and styles are fairly short lived and may be “in” for a certain period of time, which is then exchanged by innovative designs, styles and new forms of social behaviours. Ultimately fashion acts as a mechanism stimulating consumers to buy in and acquire into the fashion idea. The encouragement of consuming fashion and products deemed as fashionable items which have expiration dates clearly highlights how fashion follows a strategic business approach of planned obsolescence, encouraging the market survival of brands and catering to the desire for change amongst consumers. It can be assumed that the purchase of counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands allow consumers to exhibit the same qualities offered by genuine luxury designer brands. Therefore fashion is a phenomena leading to particular consumption meanings and choices, permitting consumers to select from genuine counterfeit luxury designer versions.
Genuine luxury designer brands have instant global recognition, whilst the desire for these brands has opened up a market for counterfeited luxury designer handbag brands. This is further supported by the fact that in postmodern cultures, consumers often exhibited their identity via the consumption of fashion commodities which are
constantly evolving. Prior to the postmodernism fashion, people we obliged to dress in accordance to their social identities. The postmodernism fashion era liberated women and permitted women to try different fashions allowing them to express their personal tastes which are both meaningful and of a particular existing fashionable style.
Counterfeiting Culprits China is one of the chief offenders in the production of counterfeit goods and has been considered as the counterfeit capital of the world McDonald and Roberts, 1994; Phau et al., 2001; Anderson, 2004). In 2002 The European Union Customs reportedly saw a substantial amount of counterfeit goods being distributed in the EU coming from China (Anderson, 2004). Purchasers of counterfeited high fashion brands may see no legitimate grounds for purchasing an extremely expensive, handbag which will only go out of fashion by next season. Instead, consumers may choose to invest in a cheaper copycat version of a handbag brand which, will last long enough to be replaced by the new counterfeit design from next season. The situation is so serious that some individuals may even favour counterfeit brands.
Existing and Future Data Collection Methods This study is an explorative research investigating women in London and the key antecedents (social, attitudinal, individual, behavioural and emotional) which influence their purchases towards genuine luxury designer and/or counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands.
Web based surveys will be the main method of data collection allowing for the systematic overview and collection of standardised information to be collected at a
speedy pace. The specific topics and themes go beyond a descriptive and exploratory research. The survey incorporates factors that account for attitude, behaviour and also incorporates explicit theoretical ideas and attempts to test rival theories. The webbased surveys employs the consumption motivation scale, brand meaning scale, attitudinal scale, brand luxury index (BLI) scale, materialism scale and the hierarchy of consumer emotions scale. This will allow for better conclusions to be drawn.
The first phase of the web-based survey design (pre-test) has already been conducted and was executed in two focus groups. The topics in the survey acted as a platform for eliminating and further investigating areas which may have been overlooked during the initial drafting of the intended web-based survey. The pre-test phase highlighted the enormity of the study and allowed for the evolution of a more focused study. Originally the study began by comparing genuine luxury designer handbag brands, counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands and high street handbag brands. The items on the survey proved to be unrealistic, which led to a comparative study of genuine luxury designer handbag brands and counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands which allowed for the reduction of items. The second phase of the web-based survey (test) has also been conducted and involved a trial of the full web-based questions being tested under near-normal survey conditions. This part of the test involved small numbers of respondents who are similar to those who will eventually be approached in the full web-based survey. The third stage of the data collection phase is to proceed on to the final web-based survey. In conjunction with the web-based survey an online focus group has also been carried out on http://www.purseblog.com/, this study stresses that a social phenomena can be systematically and scientifically measured.
Conclusion Understanding the social, attitudinal, individual, behavioural and emotional factors that consumers experience amongst genuine and counterfeit luxury designer brands, shall help focus on the deeper understanding of how consumers feel, think and act towards an array of genuine versus counterfeit luxury designer handbag brands. Having a better understanding of abstract issues such as symbolic and social dependencies allows marketers to fully comprehend factors which influence consumers and their experiences with genuine luxury designer brands and counterfeit luxury designer brands.
References Anderson , J . ( 2004 ) "The China syndrome”, Brand & Product Protection , March, pp. 16 – 17 . Bagwell, L. S. and Bernhcim, B. D. 1997. “Veblen effects in a theory of conspicuous consumption”, American Economic Review, vol 86. no. 3, June, 349-73 Grossman, G. M., Shapiro, C. (1988) “Foreign counterfeiting of status goods”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics”, Vol. 103, No.1, pp 79-100. Kaiser, S.B., Nagasawa, R.H. & Hutton, S.S. (1991). “Fashion, postmodernity and personal appearance: A symbolic interactionist formulation”, Symbolic Interaction, 14(2), 165-85. Kawamura, Y. (2005), “Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studie, Berg, New York. Levy, S.J. (1959), “Symbols for Sale”, Harvard Business Review, 37 (July-August), pp.117-119. McDonald , G . M . and Roberts , C . ( 1994 ) “Product piracy: The problem will not go away”, Journal of Product & Brand Management , Vol. 3 , No. 4 , pp. 55 – 65. O’Mally (1991) ‘Brand means business’, Accountancy, Vol. 107, pp 107-188 Phau , I . , Prendergast , G . and Chuen , L . H . ( 2001 ) “Profiling brand-piracyprone consumers: An exploratory study in Hong Kong’s clothing industry”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management , Vol. 5 , No. 1 , pp. 45 – 55 . Tungat, M. (2004). “Fashion Brands Branding Style from Armani to Zara”, Kogan Page, London.