Retail knockoffs: Consumer acceptance and rejection of inauthentic retailers
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This study extends the counterfeit product paradigm by examining an unexplored area in services - namely, the existence of inauthentic retail establishments, or so-called retail knockoffs. These fake establishments mimic the service and product offerings of genuine establishments, such as Starbucks, McDonald's, 7-Eleven, Apple, and others, prevailing across Southeast Asia, primarily in China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. By employing grounded theory methodology, this study offers an original framework that illustrates why consumers accept and patronize both authentic and inauthentic retail establishments. The model shows that many consumers are satisfied with counterfeit servicescapes and that some fake retail and service establishments are ironically building a loyal customer following. Thus, service organizations should respond to these inauthentic companies by viewing them as potential partners for innovation and expansion, rather than as future adversaries for costly litigation.
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