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Consumer complicity with counterfeit products

Peggy E. Chaudhry (Villanova School of Business, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA)
Stephen A. Stumpf (Villanova School of Business, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 22 March 2011




The purpose of this paper is to guide marketing managers in their efforts to decrease consumer demand for counterfeits of their products by examining the consumer beliefs and attitudes that have been found to support consumer complicity across multiple products, in virtual and physical shopping environments, using several criteria of complicity for each product.


A web‐based survey of 254 students explored two ethical ideologies (idealism and relativism), collectivism, and two attitudes toward counterfeits (ethical concern and perceived quality) with respect to two counterfeit products (movies and pharmaceuticals) and reported respondents' complicity in both a virtual and physical marketplace for each good.


Consumer complicity – a consumer's willingness to obtain, share, or use counterfeit products – was predicted by the consumers' hedonic shopping experience and lack of ethical concern with two different counterfeit products. The effects of ethical ideologies and collectivism on consumer complicity were observed to operate indirectly through hedonic shopping and ethical concern with using counterfeits.

Research limitations/implications

The primary limitation is the use of a convenience sample of US college students and future research should take the scale items developed in this study and test in multiple country markets.


The paper extends previous research by examining several identified predictors of complicity with different products, across virtual and physical markets, and with multiple criteria incorporating both acquisition, intent to acquire, and willingness to share.



Chaudhry, P.E. and Stumpf, S.A. (2011), "Consumer complicity with counterfeit products", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 139-151.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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