For the new study, the researchers gathered data from consumers in
Germany and South Korea, both countries with large luxury markets — of
both genuine and counterfeit goods. They found individual differences
but also some similarities within countries.
“We found that people’s perceptions are what really determines the
market for counterfeits, and we found cultural patterns,” Jung said.
“German consumers want high-quality goods, and they worry that
counterfeits won’t have the quality they desire. Korean consumers are
more concerned about social perceptions and making a good impression on
others. They worry that people will think less of them if they are known
to buy counterfeits.”
Jung said those attitudes toward counterfeit items fit larger
cultural patterns. Korean culture in general has a high level of social
consciousness, while Germans, like Americans, put more emphasis on
The researchers hope to extend their cross-cultural work and examine
counterfeit markets in countries such as China, India and Brazil, where
demand for luxury goods is soaring.
The ultimate goal of learning why consumers will or won’t buy fake
items is to create educational campaigns and other efforts to weaken the
global counterfeit industry, which costs genuine manufacturers billions
of dollars in sales and dilutes the value of their brands.
“There’s no shortage of demand for counterfeits, so developing
prevention strategies is difficult,” Jung said. “What we’ve learned is
that to have effective strategies, we have to be country-specific. Even
being culture-specific isn’t enough; Korea is not the same as Germany,
but it’s also not the same as China and other Asian countries.”