United we stand, divided we fall - how firms can engage consumers in their fight against counterfeits

Ludovica Cesareo, Barbara Stöttinger

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Counterfeit goods are rampant in today's global business world. Original brand manufacturers usually appeal to governments, international organizations, distribution partners, and their own employees to fight counterfeits. This overlooks one important stakeholder: the consumer. However, eradicating counterfeiting cannot be accomplished without eliminating consumer demand. In this article, we describe how consumers have changed in the way they relate to and engage with brands and counterfeits. At the same time, the advent of new media and the Internet have not only opened new distribution channels—particularly for counterfeits—but also new ways to address and reach consumers. These changes in basic parameters call for a fresh look at consumer-directed anti-counterfeiting measures (CAMs). Based on a summary of extant literature and current managerial insights derived from 15 interviews with high- to low-end luxury brand protection experts in Italy and Hong Kong, we suggest a portfolio of CAMs that (1) takes into account different consumers’ relationship with the brand and the counterfeit (weak to strong) and (2) differs in how actively the CAMs engage the consumers as partners against crime (low to high). At the end of the contribution, we offer practical suggestions and recommendations for action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527 - 537
JournalBusiness Horizons
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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