Skip to main content

Does a look-a-like impact the genuine article?

Media release

Curtin University researchers have examined how ‘look-a-like’ luxury goods impact on the brand of genuine luxury goods, finding copycats lessened the perception of the real thing as luxurious, exclusive and desirable.

The study also looked at the resulting implications on brand managers, practitioners and academics working in the luxury sector (fashion, jewellery, cars, clothes and tableware) – a global industry worth more than AU$220 billion in 2015.

Paper co-author Dr Min Teah, from Curtin’s School of Marketing, said due to the valuable nature of the luxury brand industry, many new brand mimics had set their sights on entering the market, even more so now given recent turbulent economic times.

“Most research into brand mimicry has investigated the black market for fake products as opposed to legitimate mimicry, which does not attempt to pass itself off as the original designer label or marque,” Dr Teah said.

“This study examined the influence of brand mimicry on perception of luxury and product evaluation of mimic brands.”

Dr Teah said the existence of copycats in the marketplace diminished how well the original models were perceived, with consumers increasingly happy to trade the high quality of luxury brands for a lower price tag.

“While imitation in the luxury brand industry may become a norm, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern between a copy and the real deal,” Dr Teah said.

“Of course, there is also the possibility that a mimic brand is actually better quality, longer-lasting and more functional or useful than the original model.

“However, those characteristics are not what is necessarily being sought by the status conscious, who generally wish to align themselves with the luxurious brand so that they feel greater personal worth, while exuding that feeling in the presence of others.”

Dr Teah said the research showed genuine brands needed to continue to evolve their brand in order to survive.

“For genuine brands to thrive, they would have to continue to innovate and be better at their game but in saying this, copycats also must evolve. Otherwise, both will fade over time,” Dr Teah said.

The paper, titled The Influence of Brand Mimicry on Luxury Brands, was recently published in Luxury Research Journal. A PDF of the full paper is available upon request.