On Subtle Themes and Blatant Features: the Effect of Imitation-Type on Evaluation and Choice of Copycats

Femke van Horen, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Rik Pieters, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
Diederik A. Stapel, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
To attain high similarity and enhance free-riding, copycats often imitate distinct features that are uniquely associated with the leader brand. We argue however, that blatant imitation of distinct features may backfire, and that copying the more subtle themes, may be a wiser strategy for copycats to follow. Four studies show that the imitation of distinct features, as compared to diffuse themes, leads, as predicted, to more negative evaluation, lower willingness to buy and lower choice rate of the copycat. It is further shown that the results generalize over different product categories and are mediated by persuasion knowledge.
[ to cite ]:
Femke van Horen, Rik Pieters, and Diederik A. Stapel (2010) ,"On Subtle Themes and Blatant Features: the Effect of Imitation-Type on Evaluation and Choice of Copycats", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 41-44 .