Demystifying deliberate counterfeit purchase behaviour: Towards a unified conceptual framework
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce a unified conceptual framework for deliberate counterfeit purchase behavior by combining its diverse economic, ethical and socio-psychological perspectives using cognitive dissonance theory. Specific hypotheses are put forth about the interrelationships among counterfeit proneness (CFP), ethical judgments, subjective norms, counterfeit product evaluation (CPE) and purchase intentions. Design/methodology/approach – A field-survey with 380 shoppers (who had ever purchased a counterfeit product) in Hong Kong across four frequently counterfeited product categories (backpack, luxury watch, software and movie DVD) with varying levels of involvement, usage context and purchase motivation. Findings – As hypothesized, CFP positively influences ethical judgments and subjective norms about buying a counterfeit product, which in turn positively affect CPE and CPI. All these effects are fairly stable across the four product categories, which suggests robustness of the proposed unified model. Research limitations/implications – Using Hong Kong as the research setting and a relatively younger sample of ethnic Chinese consumers helps ensure high internal validity but it may also restrict the generalizability of the findings. Future research with a more diverse sample of consumers would help replicate the results reported in this paper. The conceptual framework may also be extended by including variables such as consumer innovativeness, risk-taking and change-seeking as antecedents of counterfeit purchase behavior and usage. Practical implications – Findings show that consumers are influenced by a combination of individual and sociological factors when they decide whether to buy and use counterfeit products. Hence, marketers and authorities need a multi-pronged strategy to curb the growing demand and usage of counterfeit products, especially among ethnic Chinese consumers. These results may also help identify consumer segments more prone to counterfeit purchase behavior and to develop special communication to target them more effectively. Originality/value – Past studies mostly explore the “direct” and “independent” effects of consumer attitudes, ethical judgments and subjective norms on their counterfeit purchase behavior, ignoring their impact on each other and the roles of “CFP” and “product evaluation.” This paper addresses all these gaps with a unified conceptual framework that incorporates all these constructs using cognitive dissonance theory and provides useful insights about their direct and indirect effects on each other.
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