Buying Counterfeits: Analyzing Purchase Motivation Factors for Luxury Fashion Counterfeit Products


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design

Second Major



Goswami, Saheli

Advisor Department

Textile, Fashion Merchandising and Design




Fashion, Counterfeiting, Counterfeit, Luxury, Buying, Purchase, Motivation


Counterfeit products are a growing concern and a threat to manufacturers, retailers, designers and society in many different industries. In 2013, the Department of US Homeland Security seized counterfeiting goods valuing over $1.7 billion. The fashion industry, with the luxury products in particular, is highly impacted by this issue. Shoes, clothing, accessories, and leather goods represent the top categories of counterfeit goods that were most frequently confiscated in the USA.

A review of the literature shows that counterfeiting has been a challenge for companies as brand equity, brand reputation and the perceived value of companies can be seriously undermined. Counterfeiting has particularly been on the rise with the popularity of social media; for example, 20% of 20,892 Instagram accounts posted more than 14 million photos displaying as luxury counterfeit goods in 2017. While several studies have investigated consumers’ interests in counterfeits, only a few have explored the topic from a consumer’s motivational perspective. Thus, this study uses the theory of reasoned action to understand and investigate how consumers’ intention and purchase behavior of counterfeits can be explained by their underlying attitude and subjective norms, and if consumers’ perceived risk of counterfeit luxury products influences their ultimate purchase behavior of such products.

To answer the research question, data were collected using a self-reported online survey. Participants, recruited in March 2019, were selected from a sample pool of college students from the North Eastern part of the country. College students were considered appropriate for the study as they mostly represent gen-Y and are reported to be more likely to buy counterfeit clothing and accessories. After the Institutional Review Board approval, the target sample were approached via email requesting for participation and a total of 20 participants were randomly selected and compensated with gift-cards. Data will be analyzed by comparing the means and simple linear regression to get a better understanding of how consumers’ perceptions towards counterfeit luxury products can be important predictors of their intentions and eventual actual purchase of a counterfeit.

The results of this study are expected to create a thorough understanding of consumers' psychology and perceptions of counterfeits, and how such might influence their interest in buying counterfeit products. While the study will pave a path for future research in consumer psychology, such knowledge will particularly be helpful for the luxury fashion brands. Knowledge of consumers motivation can not only help companies to design effective and efficient strategies to offset counterfeit purchasing, such can also help them to better educate their consumers and increase brand loyalty.

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