Consumers who have gathered experiences with counterfeit products are more likely to buy the fake than the original, a newly published study suggests. The research also says that companies can counter this effect by using special communications.

Gathering first-hand experiences with counterfeits may negatively impact one’s intention to purchase original products, a study by the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) has now shown. The researchers also assessed the effectiveness of brand protection measures – according to them, it is crucial to create positive customer experiences and to implement specialized anti-counterfeiting communications.

The study suggests that experiences with fakes encourage consumers to continue purchasing counterfeits. This comes even though these experiences can also trigger positive effects on the perception of a genuine product – for example if the quality of the fake turns out to be disappointing. Still, the price advantage of counterfeit products wins out for most buyers, as the study found.

The researchers stress that brand owners can take several steps to counteract this. A particularly effective strategy in fighting counterfeiting is prevention via dedicated communications. This enables companies to raise consumer awareness of the inferior quality of counterfeits, for example. Special communications alone could thus reduce the intention to buy counterfeits by up to 34%, according to the study.

Another option is to enable potential customers to gather first-hand experiences of genuine products, e.g. through rental or leasing schemes. In addition, curtailing price advantages of fakes or strengthening the brand image might also help reduce intentions to purchase counterfeits, the research says.

For their meta-analytic study Does Counterfeiting Benefit or Harm Original Products?, researchers of the European University Viadrina evaluated the results of over 100 individual studies. The assessment comprised a selection of published and still unpublished empirical inquiries into the subject of counterfeiting.

Quelle: Journal of Marketing Behaviour