Could you tell a real Louis Vuitton handbag from a counterfeit?
In a research study, a marketing scholar has challenged luxury handbag owners to do the same – with surprising results.
Renee Richardson Gosline, Assistant Professor of Marketing at MIT, showed photos of luxury handbags (both real and fake) to 100 handbag owners. Some of the handbags were on blank backgrounds whilst others were worn by people in social settings. Gosline found “people are more likely to identify a designer handbag as authentic if the individual carrying it wears expensive clothes, or has a certain aura that says rich person.”
The study also revealed that:
• People will pay twice as much for an item when they think they can use it to send cues about wealth and taste.
• Annual sales of counterfeit goods total about $600 billion worldwide, almost 7 percent of global trade. (Although these figures include industries other than luxury goods.)
Counterfeiting is definitely big business. According to Bloomberg, the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition says that it costs U.S. businesses as much as $250 billion a year.
In a separate study, Gosline discovered that buying a counterfeit was a precursor to buying a genuine bag for 46 percent of those interviewed. She said, “The counterfeit actually served as a placebo for brand attachment. People were becoming increasingly attached to the real brand even though they never possessed it at all.”
For us, the key finding to this study is that counterfeits are no substitute. The discerning can always tell…