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Two Birds One Stone: Leveraging Branding Strategies to Protect Brands against Counterfeits (RDF20/BL/MOS/BIAN)

Project Description

Firms invest heavily in branding. Branding and brand management are extensively examined in academic research. Surprisingly, brand protection remains a largely underresearched area (Ertekin et al., 2018) of significant implications, particularly to luxury brands which face infringement, such as counterfeits. The consequences of counterfeits range from negative brand associations and brand erosion to providing financial support to terrorism. These undesirable consequences compromise United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Responsible Consumption and Production; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure; and Good Health and Well-being (United Nations Sustainable Development, 2019). To this end, brand protection against counterfeits warrants a viable research area of both theoretical and practical importance from both brand management and United Nations blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

This project aims to address three important research questions:

1) What branding strategies (e.g., emotional brand attachment, brand coolness, brand love) would most likely drive consumer patronage of genuine branded products?
2) Would these commonly adopted branding strategies also lead to consumer demand for counterfeits?
3) When would firms be able to leverage branding strategies to protect brands against counterfeits?

This research is directed towards exploring these questions by drawing on multidisciplinary literature, such as luxury brand (Heath et al., 2011) and branding literature (Malär et al., 2011), self-regulation theory (Baumeister et al., 2007)), and self-concept literature (Sirgy, 1982). Empirical data will be collected from brand managers and brand protection managers (face to face interviews) and consumers aged between 18 and 75 (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. RDF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020.

Start Date: 1 October 2020.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


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.

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