Valentine’s Day gifts: Are you giving knockoffs or the real deal? — Renée Richardson Gosline

MIT Sloan Prof. Renée Richardson Gosline

Gift giving can be fraught with anxiety, and Valentine’s Day gifts are no exception. If you decide to give a luxury item like jewelry or a designer handbag, the stakes can seem even higher. Naturally, it can be tempting to look for a “deal,” but buyer beware: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially when it comes to counterfeit luxury goods. My research on the impact of counterfeiting on brands shows that the greatest risk in buying knockoffs is not to the brand, but to the user.

Why is this? First, counterfeits do not serve as substitutes for the real thing. Perhaps the biggest things that set luxury products apart from their imitators are quality and service. Design elements may be copied, but craftsmanship is difficult to replicate. That handbag found at a deep discount on eBay or at a street market may soon show signs of poor quality like frayed threading, broken straps, or ripped lining. Replacement time will be quicker since the counterfeit’s shelf life is shorter. Read More »