Press release from the British Academy of Management
Luxury goods owners are judged as materialistic and narcissistic as those possessing counterfeit versions, research says
Thursday 5 September 2019
Consumers who own luxury goods like Louis Vuitton wallets are judged as narcissistic and materialistic as those who buy counterfeit versions of the same brand, research shows.
Owning luxury goods makes consumers less attractive as potential friends to other people, the “unexpected” research finding shows, the British Academy of Management’s annual conference in Birmingham heard today [Thursday 5 September].
Researchers asked 168 men and women university students to rate a fictional person from a description of their life, which included the information that they had bought either a Louis Vuitton luxury wallet, a counterfeit version of this, or a cheaper Zara wallet.
They found that those owning the counterfeit wallet were judged more materialistic and deceptive, and less desirable as friends or marriage partners. But they were surprised to find that luxury brand owners were relatively unpopular too.
The researchers, Professor George Baltas, Ms Vassia Kontopoulou, and Professor Flora Kokkinaki, of Athens University of Economics and Business, where the research was carried out, found that:
• the students gave those with the Louis Vuitton wallet a score of 0.7 for how narcissistic they were, compared with 0.6 for those with the counterfeit version
and a lower score of 0.3 for those with the Zara wallet (on a scale of 0 to 1).
• they gave those with the Louis Vuitton wallet or a counterfeit version an almost equal score of around 3.5 for how materialistic they were, compared with 2.9 for those with the Zara wallet (on a scale of 1 to 5).
• the students gave those with the Louis Vuitton wallet a score of 5 for their desirability as friends, compared with 5.8 for those with the Zara wallet and 4.7 for those with the counterfeit version of the Louis Vuitton (on a scale of 1 to 7).
• they gave those with the Louis Vuitton wallet a score of 4.2 for how deceptive they were, compared with 3.4 for those with the Zara wallet and 5.3 for those with the counterfeit version of the Louis Vuitton (on a scale of 1 to 9)
“Our analysis produced an interesting, unexpected finding – participants were equally less willing to befriend those who own an original luxury brand as they were with owners of the counterfeit luxury brand,” Professor Baltas told the conference, at Aston University.
“Individuals who owned either an original or a counterfeit luxury brand were perceived as highly narcissistic in comparison to those who owned a low-status brand.
“Interestingly, people who owned an original luxury wallet were perceived as having higher intention to mislead regarding their status comparing to targets who owned a low-status wallet. It is conceivable that even genuine luxury items are not necessarily proof of status and wealth in our era of mass luxury.”
Women participants were more impressed with men owning the genuine luxury item in romantic terms, the researchers found.
“Men who own counterfeit luxury brands and men with low-status brands were rated just about equally attractive as short-term romantic partners by women, while owners of genuine luxury brands were the most attractive as short-terms romantic partners,” said Professor Baltas.
“However, when it comes to long-term relationships, owners of genuine luxury items and owners of low-status brands were rated as almost equally attractive, while the owners of counterfeit luxury items were given the lowest rating as long-term relationship partners”