Exposing the Designer Paradox: Understanding How Consumers Rationalize Purchasing Counterfeit Designer Merchandise

Deborah Brown McCabe, Arizona State University, USA
Mark Rosenbaum, Northern Illinois University, USA
This paper examines consumers’ use of five rationalization techniques, drawn from sociology, to evaluate their attitudes towards the purchasing of counterfeit designer merchandise. Findings from a large, multi-location survey reveal that nearly 70% of respondents rationalize the appropriateness of purchasing counterfeits. Furthermore, about 50% of the respondents have purchased at least one counterfeit designer product, while nearly one-third of respondents who believe that purchasing counterfeits is wrong have actually purchased a fake designer product. However, the results of a second experimental study reveal that a “designer paradox” in that the respondents’ desire to own authentic designer merchandise does not dissipate after they see counterfeit versions of designer products. Overall, these findings pose an interesting conundrum to luxury brand marketers looking to curb counterfeiting.
[ to cite ]:
Deborah Brown McCabe and Mark Rosenbaum (2007) ,"Exposing the Designer Paradox: Understanding How Consumers Rationalize Purchasing Counterfeit Designer Merchandise", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 700.