Counterfeiters: Foes or Friends? How Counterfeits Affect Sales by Product Quality Tier
A key concern about counterfeits and weak intellectual property protection is that they may hamper innovation by displacing legitimate sales. This paper combines a natural policy experiment with randomized lab experiments to estimate the heterogeneous impacts of counterfeiting on the sales and consumer purchase intent related to branded products of various quality levels. I collect new productline-level panel data (1993-2004) on Chinese shoe companies. I identify heterogeneous effects of counterfeit entry on sales of authentic products of three quality tiers, finding that counterfeits have both advertising effects for a brand and substitution effects for authentic products, additionally the effects linger for some years. The advertising effect dominates the substitution effect for high-end authentic product sales, and the substitution effect outweighs the advertising effect for low-end product sales. The positive effect of counterfeits is most pronounced for high-fashion products (such as women’s highleg boots and dress shoes), for shoes tailored to young customers, and for high-end products of brands not yet well-known at the time of counterfeiter entry.
Qian, Yi. Forthcoming. Counterfeiters: Foes or Friends? How Counterfeits Affect Sales by Product Quality Tier. Management Science.