The people in Hong Kong have an incredible luxury goods. Every high-end brand, it seems, has an enormous store: Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, the list goes on and on. There is no question luxury brands sell exceptionally well.
At the same time, Hong Kong is full of people selling copied products. In one twenty-minute period, for example, eighteen different people offered to sell me knock-off watches. “Copy watch? Copy watch, sir? Rolex? Rolex? Very good quality.” In one market I wandered back to look at some knock-off Louis Vuitton bags, and while I am not an expert in Louis Vuitton bags, they certainly looked fine to me.
This is a bit of a paradox. Why do people buy luxury goods when they can buy knock-off products for a fraction of the price? How can luxury brands flourish in a market where credible copies are readily available?
I suspect the answer is that people feel differently about buying and using a fake product. We know that perception shapes enjoyment; if people think something is special they enjoy it more. The logic follows that people derive more pleasure from a real product than from a copy.
Buying a fake product is not an uplifting experience. I debated buying a fake Louis Vuitton purse for my wife, but decided that I would always feel bad about the product, and she would, too. Who wants to carry around a fake Louis Vuitton purse? A strong brand transforms a product into something very special. A fake doesn’t. This dynamic protects brands even when copies are readily available.
“Copy watch? Copy watch?” Not for me.