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Examining ethics and materialism with purchase of counterfeits

Joy M. Kozar (Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Sara B. Marcketti (Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




The purpose of this study is to measure undergraduate students' ethical and materialistic values, and the correlation of these variables with the purchase of counterfeit apparel products.


Students (n=741) were surveyed via an online method. Instrument items from the Muncy‐Vitell consumer ethics scale and the values‐oriented materialism scale ascertained students' values of ethics and materialism. Previous purchasing behavior of counterfeit apparel goods was also assessed.


A significant relationship between materialism and ethics was found. Those participants who reported to be more ethical in their decision making were those that held less materialistic values. Ethics and materialism were also significantly related to the purchase behavior of counterfeit apparel goods. Consumers holding stronger ethical values and who were less materialistic were less likely to report purchasing counterfeit apparel products.

Practical implications

Findings are useful in understanding the values orientation of consumers who purchase counterfeit apparel goods. Segmenting consumer groups of varying ethical beliefs and materialistic tendencies and targeting them through appropriate marketing messages could be successful in encouraging greater socially responsible purchase behavior.


Since purchasing counterfeit products is specifically a consumption activity related to brand prestige and image, it seems plausible that a relationship between an individual's materialistic values and purchase behavior of counterfeit apparel goods could exist. Moreover, given previous findings that more materialistic consumers also tend to be less ethically‐minded, exploring the relationship between consumers' ethical perceptions and their purchase behavior of counterfeit products is useful.



Kozar, J.M. and Marcketti, S.B. (2011), "Examining ethics and materialism with purchase of counterfeits", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 393-404.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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