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BBS PhD Symposium 23 - 1 BBS PhD Symposium 23 _ 24 March 2009


									        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

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.

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


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


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 web-

based 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, this study

stresses that a social phenomena can be systematically and scientifically measured.

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.


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

Levy, S.J. (1959), “Symbols for Sale”, Harvard Business Review, 37 (July-August),

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-piracy-
prone 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.


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