Towards a general model explaining physical and digital counterfeits

Francisco-Jose Molina-Castillo, Elfriede Penz, Barbara Stöttinger

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Demand for fake physical and digital products is a global phenomenon with substantive detrimental effects on companies and consumers. This raises various questions and issues, such as whether there are generalizable explanations of purchase intentions.

This research is based on consumer samples from three different countries. This paper develops and tests a model based on the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to explain both the demand for counterfeits and digital piracy. Respondents were questioned about physical products (e.g. clothing, accessories) from well-known brands and digital products (e.g. software, music).

Socially oriented motives such as embarrassment potential, ethical concerns and social norms explain the intention to purchase fake physical and digital products, while personally oriented motives (e.g. self-identity) have indirect effects but not a direct impact on purchase intention.

Research limitations/implications
As our results show, we find evidence for a general model – contributing and supporting our first and primary research goal of providing a theoretically robust model that bridges the gap between two streams of literature.

Practical implications
The fact that drivers of buying counterfeit physical and digital goods are similar across countries provides justification for companies and international organizations to bundle their efforts and thus leverage them more strongly on a global scale.

We provide a basis for consolidating future research on demand for counterfeits and pirated goods because underlying factors driving demand are similar across the three countries studied herein.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873 - 892
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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