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The counterfeiting industry and the consumer behaviour

I already dealt with Bottega Veneta this week, the ultra luxury Italian brand. Like many other luxury bag brands, Bottega Veneta is subject to counterfeiting. A long-debated question is whether counterfeiting is a fate or a sign that a brand is successful. This was the subject of much discussion at the International Marketing Trends Conference in Venice, which ended January 21, 2012. Bottega Veneta, Vuitton and the like are a privileged field of study for behaviorists and especially those who are interested in consumers’ propensity to purchase counterfeit goods.

And guess what … those who buy counterfeits may not be those you think about.

As shown in a study presented at the conference, the purchase of counterfeits is not just about consumers who do not have the resources but to a greater extent it is a phenomenon that also affects the richest. Customers of genuine products are among the most assiduous in buying fakes that they are looking mostly for their seemingly incongruous nature. Loyal customers know indeed that they are copies, mainly because of variations in color, are not imitations of an existing product.


My take:

I like counter-intuitive behaviors. Who would actually think that counterfeit Vuitton bags are also bought by the very clients of the original products? The question one may ask is what those consumers are looking for beyond completing their collection. Is it to some extend a sort of recognition for being connoisseurs? Think about it. Do you buy a counterfeit for the sake of it, or do you buy a counterfeit because you want to tell a story to others, a story that tells others that you are so knowledgeable about a brand that you also know what they have never produced?


Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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