The Role of Ethical Behavior and Consumer Spiritual Well-Being in Deciding to Purchase Counterfeit Sport Goods

Document Type : Original Article


1 Master's student in sports management, Sanabad Golbahar Institute of Higher Education, Golbahar, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor of Sports Management, Sanabad Golbahar Institute of Higher Education, Golbahar, Iran.



"Smuggling, forgery, and fraud are global phenomena that have grown increasingly prevalent in recent years, with numerous negative consequences affecting not only legitimate businesses but also consumers, business owners, and society as a whole (Martinez & Jaeger, 2016). Researchers have concluded that authentic sports brands such as Adidas and Puma are among the most counterfeited and copied brands (Umar, 2015). In today’s complex and challenging markets, every business must strive to foster a strong bond with its customers in order to thrive and excel. As a result, attention to moral issues in social and economic relations has significantly increased (Asadollahi, Tojari & Zarei, 2017). Initially, compliance with ethical principles was primarily associated with markets and their activities in selling goods or services. However, it has been found that the purchase of counterfeit products may be linked to the moral and spiritual well-being of customers (Fahimdevin & Asadollahi, 2023). Therefore, the main focus of the current research was to examine the role of ethical behavior and consumers’ spiritual well-being in the decision to purchase counterfeit sports goods, and whether these factors interact with the purchase of counterfeit goods and whether they can be improved to reduce the purchase of counterfeit and imitation goods?

This research falls into the category of applied research, utilizing a quantitative survey methodology with a descriptive correlation approach. The statistical population for this study comprised all customers of sports products in Mashad. The sample size was determined based on the number of observable variables, and the accessible sampling method was used, with questionnaires distributed electronically in sports product sale groups. A total of 385 samples were analyzed, using three questionnaires related to spiritual well-being, ethics, and the decision to purchase fake and imitation products. All questionnaires were validated for face and content validity. Descriptive statistics, including mean, standard deviation, and cumulative frequency, were used to describe the demographic characteristics of the research population. Additionally, structural equation modeling was employed in the inferential statistics section, with the analysis conducted using the Smart PLS2 software environment.

The findings revealed that all paths are significant, with the ethical path to the decision to purchase showing a strong influence (standard effect coefficient of 0.949). Moreover, the path from ethics to spiritual well-being (standard effect coefficient of 0.340) and from spiritual well-being to the decision to purchase (standard effect coefficient of -0.364) were also found to be significant and negative. This suggests that ethical behavior can lead to spiritual well-being and that ethical behavior and spiritual well-being can influence the decision to purchase counterfeit goods.

The present study aimed to model the impact of consumer ethics and spiritual well-being on the decision to purchase counterfeit sports goods, and the findings are consistent with previous research by Shahriari et al. (2023), Asadollahi et al. (2021), and Chergahayn et al. (2015) Spiritual well-being is defined as the awareness of existence or power beyond the material aspects of life. For these reasons, since ethical considerations are also prevalent among the people of our country, this finding is justified: spirituality is an integral part of morals and human values. This is particularly important because human nature has a fundamental tendency toward positive and desirable values. A spiritually inclined individual possesses a special understanding of God, humanity, and the world, and seeks to integrate their spiritual beliefs with ethical practices. This serves to substantiate the findings of the research model, which aligns with the research of Asadollahi, Ghaharamani and Keshtidar (2023), Samaadifar, and Narimani (2017).

Spiritual well-being denotes an individual’s ability to establish coherence and compatibility between the meaning, purpose, and values of their life. This can play a significant role in resolving conflicts. In conclusion, it can be noted that consumers’ behavior regarding counterfeit products may change and develop based on various factors. It was determined that ethics exert the greatest influence on the decision to purchase fake sports products, implying that consumers’ ethical conduct can determine whether they choose to use such products or not (depending on whether they consider buying fake products to be ethical or not). Furthermore, an ethical individual recognizes that the cost of their purchase should not only benefit themselves but should also take into account other relevant factors.


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