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Mapping the Real and the False: Globalization and the Brand in Contemporary China

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78441-158-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-157-2

Publication date: 22 November 2014



To show that Chinese consumers are constantly redefining and revaluing goods along the axes of the real and the false, with little regard for legal definitions of brand authenticity or “fakeness.”


The data was collected through interviews, focus groups, observations, and casual conversations over 16 months of ethnographic research in Beijing, China.


In their everyday consumption practices and navigation of a complex and often dangerous marketplace, Chinese consumers categorize products based on their perceived “truth.” The paper introduces a typology that describes these local categories and explains their utility for consumers.

Research limitations/implications

The data was primarily conducted in an urban capital with a highly educated and high-average-income populace, thus it does not represent all Chinese consumers or a statistical sample.

Practical/social implications

This paper explains how the same globalizing processes that helped brands establish themselves in the Chinese market now threaten the capability of all brands to gain and retain the trust of consumers


By explaining how new calculations of value are being produced under glocalized regimes of manufacture and distribution, this research makes an important contribution to our understandings of brands and their limits.



Kuever, E. (2014), "Mapping the Real and the False: Globalization and the Brand in Contemporary China", Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 173-189.



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