Revisit: Deliberate Lookalikes Purchase Behaviour


Past, Present and Future Research, Special issue of Journal of Product and Brand Management; Deadline 30 Jun 2018


SPECIAL ISSUE on “Deliberate Lookalikes:Past, Present and Future Research”


Dr. Nebojsa S. Davcik, BRU Research Fellow, Business Research Unit (BRU/UNIDE-IUL), Instituto Universitario de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Lisbon, Portugal; Email:

Professor Piyush Sharma, Professor of Marketing, Curtin Business School
Curtin University, Perth, Australia; Email:

Dr. Ricky Chan, Associate Professor, Department of Management and Marketing
Faculty of Business, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong;
Email: Dr. Rajat Roy, Associate Professor of Marketing, Bond Business School, Bond University, Australia; Email:

Online information:


One of the “prices” that successful brands have to pay is that they are imitated, often via lookalikes. Lookalikes are face offers that have strong similarities with authentic branded offers and might take various forms, including counterfeits, copycats and no name imitations. Counterfeits are products that imitate an established brand in terms of all its characteristics, including its trademark (Baghi et al., 2016). Copycats are products that have a different brand name but look very similar to an existing brand and therefore they confuse consumers (Coelho do Vale and Verga Matos 2015; Le Roux et al., 2016). No Name imitations are products that look similar to an existing brand but do not curry a brand name. Although these different categories exist, the market data does not always differentiate between the different categories of lookalikes and classifies them all as counterfeits and pirated goods.

Counterfeiting and pirated is growing at an alarming rate, accounting for up to 10 percent of world trade (about USD 650 billion per annum) (Chen et al., 2015; Liu et al., 2015). A recent report by World Customs Organization shows that counterfeit and pirated goods worth USD 1.47 billion were caught by customs authorities in 58 member countries in 2012 (WCO, 2013). Not surprisingly, as the world?s largest consumer market, the United States leads the list with 7615 (34%) cases, followed by Saudi Arabia, Italy and Spain, with top 15 countries contributing to 92% of all reported cases. China and Hong Kong are the major contributors with two-thirds (67%) of total reported cases. In volume terms, personal accessories (3531 cases, 16%), clothing (3303 cases, 15%), pharmaceuticals (2287 cases, 10 %) and mobile phones (2125 cases, 9%) account for half of the reported cases; whereas, in value terms, accessories (29%) and watches (26%) alone account for more than 50% of the total, followed by electronic appliances (12%), clothing (8%) and footwear (5%). Major brands, and in particular Rolex, Sony, Louis Vuitton, Rayban, Gucci, Hermes, Burberry, D&G, Adidas and Armani contribute about half of the total value (about USD 700 million) for the reported cases. Hence, it is not surprising that lookalikes attracts attention from academics, marketers, regulators, and consumers (Geiger-Oneto et al., 2013; Hamelin, Nwankwo and El Hadouchi, 2013; Yoo and Lee, 2012; Zimmerman, 2013).

There are two types of lookalikes in the marketplace – deceptive and non-deceptive (Hübner, 2007). In deceptive (primary) market, consists primarily from counterfeit products and unscrupulous manufacturers or retailers cheat the customers by selling counterfeits of well-known brands without the customers? knowledge (Falkowski, Olszewska and Ulatowska, 2014; Grossman and Shapiro, 1988). In non-deceptive (secondary) market, consumers knowingly and deliberately buy lookalike products, such as personal accessories, pirated music CDs, movie DVDs or software (Penz, Schlegelmilch and Stöttinger, 2009; Penz and Stöttinger, 2008). Knowing that a product is a counterfeit can also influence the behaviour of potential buyers (Baghi et al., 2016).

Despite the growing research in lookalikes and consumer behaviour and the use of various theoretical perspectives (e.g., economic, ethical, and socio-normative) to explore the phenomenon (Eisend and Schuchert-Güler, 2006; Staake, Thiesse and Fleisch, 2009; Zhan, Sharma and Chan, 2015), there are still many mixed findings and unanswered questions in the area (Geiger-Oneto et al., 2013; Hamelin et al., 2013). For example, many studies find a positive influence of attitude towards counterfeiting on deliberate counterfeit purchase intentions (e.g., Maldonado and Hume, 2005; Wee, Tan and Cheok, 1995) as well as past purchase behaviour (e.g., Penz and Stöttinger, 2005) but others find no effects on purchase intentions (e.g., Hoe, Hogg and Hart., 2003) or past purchase behaviour (e.g., de Matos, Ituassu and Rossi, 2007; Walthers and Buff, 2008). Similarly, most studies find a negative effect of subjective norms against counterfeiting and perceived social risk on counterfeit purchase behaviour but some do not (e.g., Shaari and Halim, 2006; Veloutsou and Bian, 2008). Finally, many studies find a negative effect of ethical and moral beliefs on counterfeit purchase behaviour unlike others (Wang et al., 2005).

This call focuses on the non-deceptive deliberate purchase of lookalikes in order to demystify the complex consumer decision-making process influenced by a combination of diverse economic, ethical, and socio-psychological motivations (Li and Seaton, 2015; Liu et al., 2015; Randhawa, Calantone and Voorhees, 2015). An extensive review of the current literature on deliberate lookalike purchase behaviour reveals the following research gaps, which may partly explain the above mixed findings:

  • Most studies only explore the „independent? influence of consumer attitudes, ethical judgments, moral beliefs and subjective norms on counterfeit usage (e.g., de Matos et al., 2007; Penz et al., 2009). Hence, it is not clear how these factors may affect each other or have a combined influence on counterfeit purchase behaviour.
  • Most studies also examine the „direct? influence of consumer attitudes, ethical judgments, moral beliefs and subjective norms on counterfeit purchase, but overlook the mediating role of „product evaluation?, a key element of consumer decision-making (e.g., Ang et al., 2001; Chapa, Minor and Maldonado, 2006; de Matos et al., 2007; Kwong et al., 2003; Maldonado and Hume, 2005; Wang et al., 2005).
  • Past research on counterfeits mostly focuses on the impact of consumer perceptions and attitudes on the purchase and usage of counterfeit products and there are very few studies that examine their impact on the genuine brands (Sharma and Chan, 2011). Hence, it would be useful to study how the consumer perceptions about the genuine brands change as a result of the proliferation of counterfeit products around them.
  • Many studies cover a single product category such as auto parts (Chakraborty, Allred and Bristol, 1996), sunglasses (Veloutsou and Bian, 2008), pirated music CDs (Ang et al., 2001), VCDs (Shaari and Halim, 2006), and software (Chang, 1998; Moores and Chang, 2006; Tan, 2002); whereas others chose multiple product categories without a strong conceptual basis, thus limiting the generalizability of their findings.
  • The vast majority of the existing research, with very few exemptions (Le Roux et al., 2016), either focuses on counterfeits, or does not differentiate between the different categories of lookalikes and treats them as one single category.
  • There is very little research focusing on copycats and even less research focusing on no-name imitations and the role of these kinds of lookalikes on the attitudes and the behaviour of consumers towards the lookalikes and towards the genuine brand.
  • Finally, most studies focus on the attitudes and behaviours of current users of counterfeit products and ignore the non-users, hence there is very little understanding about the differences in the underlying motivations and decision-making process for these two diverse groups of consumers.


In this special issue, we plan to extend the growing research stream by inviting manuscripts that address the differences in the expectations, perceptions and evaluations of customers about lookalike products, which offer unique challenges and opportunities to the marketers of genuine products and brands. By doing this, we aim to help researchers look beyond their typically narrow theoretical or substantive paradigms and approach this topic from a relatively broader and integrative perspective. This special issue will also help brand managers understand the importance of cultural and socio-economic differences between the buyers and non-buyers (or users and non-users) of counterfeit products in the increasingly globalized multi-cultural marketplace and develop suitable strategies to manage these differences by incorporating these in their marketing and communication activities.

We encourage both conceptual and empirical papers, using a variety of theoretical perspectives (e.g., socio-psychological, socio-economic, socio-cultural or anthropological) and methodologies (e.g., ethnographic, lab or field experiments, online or offline surveys, secondary data analysis or literature review with synthesis of current and past research). We expect submissions with original theoretical contribution and not mere replications of established models and theories for different products or markets. The conceptual papers should not merely review but synthesize the relevant literature and identify important research gaps, in order to develop new or modified conceptual frameworks with testable propositions. We would like to receive submissions from all corners of the world so that we can learn from each other and help shape the future research agenda in this important topic.

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • What are the differences in customer expectations, perceptions and evaluations of lookalike products based on cultural, demographic and socio-economic factors?
  • Impact of personal cultural values and national cultural dimensions on deliberate lookalike purchase and usage by customers.
  • Implications for brand managers in terms of product design and delivery mechanisms in response to the threat of counterfeit brands.
  • Marketing and legal counter-actions of firms toward copycats
  • Fresh theoretical perspectives that go beyond the usual economic, socio-psychological and ethical theories to examine deliberate lookalike purchase and usage.
  • Differences in marketing strategies adopted by local and global brand marketers to understand and tackle the problem of deliberate lookalike purchase and usage.
  • Role of advertising and marketing communication in changing customer attitudes towards deliberate purchase and usage of lookalike products.
  • Role of technology (e.g. Internet and social media) in promoting the proliferation of lookalike products around the globe and possible strategies to curb this menace.
  • Differences on the perceptions, evaluation and behaviours between the different types of lookalikes.
  • Linking the prevention of lookalike purchase and usage to corporate social responsibility, environment protection and sustainability in the management strategy and public policy domains.
  • How to conceptualize new measurement constructs, which will give new theoretical and methodological perspectives in lookalike brand research.
  • International marketing strategy in emerging markets and tools to address local copycatting practice
  • Characteristics of the official and unofficial brand strategies by copycatting firms.
  • The role of non-business organizations and stakeholders (Government, NGO, professional associations, etc.) in facing copycatting practice and legal effects on this miss-practice.

All papers need to be submitted online to the Special Issue on “Deliberate Lookalikes Purchase Behaviour: Past, Present and Future Research” through the ScholarOne System ( For informal enquiries you can contact the guest editors.

Deadline for submissions: 30th June, 2018.


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