Breaking the mould on copycats: When are imitation strategies successful

F. van Horen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Consumer product companies and retailers often imitate the appearance (or “trade-dress”) of a leader brand to profit from the positive associations attached to the leader brand. Such a copycatting strategy is deliberate and frequently used, as evidenced by the plethora of copycats one can find in the supermarket. Despite the frequent use of such product imitation strategies, it is however less clear when they are successful and why. This dissertation sheds new light on this important question and demonstrates that the effectiveness of a copycat strategy is not only determined by package similarity, but is highly dependent on where the copycat is sold (e.g., in which store) and how it is positioned on the supermarket shelf (e.g., next to the leader brand or not). Furthermore and in contrast to the current opinion, this dissertation shows that high similarity copycats can backfire and reduce consumer’s liking of copycats, whilst subtler forms of copycatting can free-ride more effectively on the leader brand’s equity. Because this dissertation examines the mechanisms underlying copycat effectiveness beyond consumer confusion (where consumers accidentally purchase the copycat instead of the leader brand) are examined, the subsequent findings are an important supplement to the existing literature.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • Pieters, Rik, Promotor
  • Stapel, D.A., Promotor
Award date24 Sept 2010
Place of PublicationTilburg
Print ISBNs9789056682606
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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