Consumer Evaluation of Copycat Brands: The Effect of Imitation Type

International Journal of Research in Marketing, Forthcoming

40 Pages Posted: 4 May 2012

See all articles by Femke van Horen

Femke van Horen

VU University Amsterdam

Rik Pieters

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 3, 2012

Abstract

Copycat brands imitate the trade dress of a leader brand to free ride on the latter’s equity. Copycats can imitate the distinctive, perceptual features of the leader brand, such as the lilac color of the Milka chocolate brand, or they can imitate the underlying meaning or theme of the leader brand, such as the “freshness of Alpine milk” theme in Milka. Marketing research and trademark law have mostly focused on the effects of feature imitation. In three studies, the authors demonstrate the success of copycats imitating the theme of the leader brand. Consumers consider feature imitation to be unacceptable and unfair, which causes reactance towards the copycat brand. Yet, even though consumers are aware of the use of theme imitation, it is perceived to be more acceptable and less unfair, which helps copycat evaluation.

Keywords: Copycat Brands, Type of Imitation, Similarity, Trademark Infringement

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

van Horen, Femke and Pieters, Rik, Consumer Evaluation of Copycat Brands: The Effect of Imitation Type (May 3, 2012). International Journal of Research in Marketing, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050433

Femke Van Horen (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands
+31205982272 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.feweb.vu.nl/nl/afdelingen-en-instituten/marketing/staff/horen/index.asp

Rik Pieters

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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