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Constructing identity through the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods

María Eugenia Perez (Tecnologico de Monterrey – EGADE, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico)
Raquel Castaño (Tecnologico de Monterrey – EGADE, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico)
Claudia Quintanilla (Tecnologico de Monterrey – EGADE, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 15 June 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods and identity construction. The argument is that through the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods consumers obtain real and symbolic benefits that allow them to express a desired social image and further their identity.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 37 in‐depth interviews were conducted with women who owned both originals and counterfeits of luxury fashion products.

Findings

The findings highlight three main themes describing inner benefits that consumers attain with the purchase and consumption of counterfeit luxury goods: first, being efficient by optimizing their resources; second, having fun by experiencing adventure, enjoyment, and risk; and third, fooling others expecting not to be caught. But most important, through the accomplishment of these goals consumers of counterfeit luxury goods construct an identity in which they perceive themselves as “savvy” individuals.

Originality/value

The intent is to contribute to the understanding of the process of identity construction through consumption. This consumption occurs in a particular context; the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods. The experience is singular in the sense that this paper shows the existence of consumers who can afford the prices of luxury fashion brands but decide to buy counterfeits and also because it depicts how individuals can construct a confident self‐image from an ethically questionable behavior. The consumption of counterfeit luxury brands serve consumers a self‐concept expressive function (by helping them to communicate who they are) and an adaptive social function (by rewarding them with social acceptance).

Keywords

Citation

Perez, M.E., Castaño, R. and Quintanilla, C. (2010), "Constructing identity through the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 219-235. https://doi.org/10.1108/13522751011053608

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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