Consumers love copycat devices, says UK study

Alan O'Doherty
July 24, 2013

A study on consumer habits from the University of Warwick   and Glasgow Caledonian University London in the UK has suggested that companies like Apple and Samsung might be making a mistake by trying to set themselves apart from the rest of the market.

Professor Qing Wang and Paurav Shukla conducted the study which looked at the shopping habits of 316 test subjects in two large cities in South-East England. While marketers frequently seek to distinguish their brand from the competition, the academics claim that the study revealed that shoppers are more likely to change brands if they are similar, giving them more confidence in their purchases, meaning that producing copycat devices may be the best way to encourage consumer to change their brand loyalty.

“Contrary to what many marketers and managers believe, companies should stop trying to find their USP. In fact we found that the more similar a product’s attributes appear to be to their competitors, the more confident the consumers are with their choice.”

The study is particularly relevant in light of the recent legal battles between Apple and Samsung in the US over copyright infringement, with both companies accusing the other of producing copycat devices based on their own technology.

Professor Wang also suggested that legislation insisting that companies provide more information to consumers may be misguided, as too much data can lead them to lose confidence in their decision and avoid making a purchase, “policymakers should insist on information that is clear and relevant.”


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