Consuming counterfeit: A study of consumer moralism in China

Eric Ping Hung Li, Magnum Lam, Wing Sun Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The consumption of counterfeits is a central theme in understanding consumer moralism. While some studies on marketing have highlighted the consumption motives and socio-economic factors behind this seemingly unethical phenomenon, research on the subjective experiences of consumers and the cultural concerns about the consumption of counterfeits is lacking. The aim of this article is to gain a better understanding of how consumers construct and negotiate their moralistic identities through engaging in counterfeit consumption. We also examine how consumers utilize counterfeit goods as symbolic resources to echo, or even reproduce, the entrenched Chinese social relationships and marketplace ideological conditions. Our findings suggested that the research participants attempted to make sense of their counterfeit consumption behaviour by infusing the moralistic meanings drawn from the Chinese socio-cultural value orientation. The study concludes that the moral identity work and counterfeit consumption practices are interwoven in a web of multiple discourses and resources available in the contemporary marketplace under the overarching consumer moralism framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-377
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Chinese consumers
  • consumer moralism
  • counterfeit consumption
  • ethical behaviour
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Marketing


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