Purpose - To investigate buyer attitudes and behaviour with respect to pirated products, in China, and to present findings potentially usable as the basis for planning effective marketing strategies to counteract this endemic competitive threat facing multinational entrants to the crucial Chinese market. Design/methodology/approach - Existing knowledge in the published literature was combined with inputs from focus groups in three cities to design and administer a questionnaire-based "mall intercept" survey in the same locations. Data were analysed and interpreted by means of principal component analysis and varimax rotation. Respondents were classified as heavy or light purchasers of pirated products, on criteria derived from the focus-group and survey findings. Findings - Responses from 1,152 buyers of two categories of pirated product suggest that tertiary-educated males in white collar occupations are heavy purchasers of pirated video discs, attracted by their speed of publication, variety and supply. Heavy and light buyers of pirated clothing and accessories has similar demographic and attitudinal profiles, and were mainly attracted by the appearance of the product. Both product categories were rated less positively on their ethical and legal dimensions, and on after-sales service. Research limitations/implications - Though the research sample was large and carefully controlled, the three cities in which data were collected, though chosen for their distinctive characteristics, cannot be considered representative collectively of the whole of China. Caution is, therefore, required in drawing general conclusions. Directions are suggested for future research studies. Practical implications - The findings provide useful marketing intelligence on an important phenomenon, and further suggest a number of strategies and tactics available to planners concerned to counter erosion of their market share in China by the producers and distributors of pirated products. Originality/value - Adds a fieldwork-based dimension to the body of knowledge about a serious challenge facing multinational marketers operating in the self-evidently crucial Chinese consumer market.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Marketing strategy