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Do counterfeits only affect luxury brands that are heavily counterfeited? (Advert Reference: RDF19/BL/MOS/BIAN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The estimate of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (2016) suggests that global value of trade in counterfeits and pirated products has increased more than 80 percent in a five-year period and is worth a staggering US$0.5 trillion per year. Among the affected, luxury brands have been particularly targeted by counterfeiters. Other brands are either moderately or not counterfeited at all, depending on the nature and types of brands. Demand for counterfeits (of luxury brands in particular) is experiencing an unprecedented upsurge (Bian, 2018). To protect and sustain brand equity, luxury brands, for example BMW, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, to name only a few, have established and invested in specialist anti-counterfeiting teams both nationally and internationally and are increasingly investing in combating counterfeits. Anti-counterfeiting has, indeed, been at the top of the strategic brand management agenda of luxury brands. In contrast, brands less or not counterfeited appear to have little interest in anti-counterfeiting, being partially guided by the notions “our brands are less or not affected, then why bother” and “one should fight one’s own battles.” In light of these business practices in an increasingly challenging environment worldwide two key research questions are:

1) Should luxury brands that are heavily counterfeited (compared with other brands) be more concerned about the impact of counterfeits on brand equity?
2) How and when is it likely that less or not counterfeited brands are immune from counterfeits of luxury brands?

This research is directed towards addressing these questions by drawing on multidisciplinary literature, such as luxury brand (Heath et al., 2011) and brand management literature (Park et al., 2010), social identify theory (Tajfel and Turner, 1979), and cognitive learning theories (Sloman, 1996). To this end, empirical data will be collected from brand managers (face to face interviews) and ordinary consumers (experiments and survey).

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/BL/MOS/BIAN) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Bian, X. (2018). Do counterfeits only affect brands that are heavily counterfeited? New insights. Brand Protection Professional, 3(2), pp. 20-22.
Bian, X., Wang, K-Y., Smith, A. and Yannopoulou, N. (2016). New Insights into Unethical Counterfeit Consumption. Journal of Business Research. 69(10), pp. 4249-4258.
Bian, X. and Wang, K-Y. (2015). Are size-zero female models always more effective than average-sized ones? Depends on Brand and self-esteem! European Journal of Marketing. 49(7/8), pp. 1184-1206.
Bian, X., Haque, S. and Smith, A. (2015). Social Power, Product Conspicuousness and the Demand for Luxury Brand Counterfeit Products. British Journal of Social Psychology, 54(1), pp. 37-54.
Yannopoulou, N., Liu, M., Bian, X., and Elliot, R. (2015). Perceptions of Authenticity within the Chinese Marketplace, Journal of Business Research, 68(1), pp. 27-33.
Bian, X., Yannopoulou, N., Wang, K-Y. and Shu, L. (2013). Why Are Consumers Fans of Counterfeit Branded Products? - Consumer Psychological Motivations in Counterfeit Consumptions. Advances in Consumer Research, 40, 1132.
Bian, X., Kitchen, P. and Cuomo, M. (2011). Advertising Self-Regulation - Clearance Processes, Effectiveness and Future Research Agenda. The Marketing Review, 11(4), pp. 393-414.
Bian, X. and Moutinho, L. (2011). Counterfeit and Branded Products - Effects of Counterfeit Ownership. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 20(5), pp. 379-393.
Bian, X. and Moutinho, L. (2011). The Role of Brand Image, Product Involvement, and Knowledge in Explaining Consumer Purchase Behaviour of Counterfeits: Direct and Indirect Effects. European Journal of Marketing, 45(1/2), pp. 191-215.
Bian, X. and Moutinho, L. (2009). An Investigation of Determinants of Counterfeit Purchase Consideration. Journal of Business Research, 62, pp. 368-378.
Veloutsou, C. and Bian, X. (2008). A Cross-National Examination of Consumer Perceived Risk in the Context of Non-Deceptive Counterfeit Brands. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 7(1), p. 3-20.
Bian, X. (2008). An Examination of Determinants of Likelihood of Consideration of Counterfeit Luxury Branded Products. Advances Doctoral Research in Management, 2, pp. 77-103.
Bian, X. and Veloutsou, C. (2007). Consumers' attitudes regarding non-deceptive counterfeit brands in the UK and China. Journal of Brand Management, 14, pp. 212-222.
Hui-Yi Lo, Harvey, N. & Thomson, M.E (2012). Information search and product knowledge: Differences between shopaholics and general shoppers in Britain and Taiwan. Journal of Customer Behavior, 11(4), 349-371.
Ayton, P., D. Önkal, and L. McReynolds (2011). Effects of ignorance and information on judgments and decisions. Judgment and Decision Making, 6, 381-391.
Önkal , D., M.S. Gönül, P. Goodwin, M. Thomson, E. Oz (2017). Evaluating expert advice in forecasting: Users’ reactions to presumed vs experienced credibility. International Journal of Forecasting, 33, 280–297.

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