Retail Simulacrums

The bare thought of some of the big brands in India makes me want to hum the 1962 Elvis Presley number, “She’s Not You.” I tweaked it to address retail copycats.

Her floors are gleaming granite and her glass-counters are oh-so-shiny.

She’s all the things an upscale store should be, but she’s not you.

She knows just how to make me buy when I am feeling blue.

She’s everything a savvy shopper could want, but she’s not you.

And when I’m shopping, it almost feels the same, but she’s not you.

Unlike China, India hasn’t earned notoriety for making counterfeit products, everything from a Rolex watch to a Picasso masterpiece. What India excels in, though, are knockoffs, of sorts, of entire Western retailers.

Timberland, the maker of hiking boots and other outdoor gear, identifiable by its tree logo and chunky, durable shoes, will find Woodland, which sells similar shoes and clothing, and has a tree logo.

Pinkberry, the Los Angeles-based frozen yogurt chain, will encounter Cocoberry, a frozen yogurt retailer with a look-alike logo and a similar array of candy and fresh fruit toppings.

Indian merchants, no doubt, vehemently deny any intellectual property theft. But why do it?

That Indians have a fetish for all things “foreign” is one answer. But a better answer could be that they lack the creative DNA to come up with original brand names and logo designs.

Closer, home, there’s KFC. That’s not Kentucky Fried Chicken, but … Kennedy Fried Chicken, a chain started in New York in 1979, owned and operated by Afghan immigrants.

Devotees say Kennedy serves a good bird, not too oily, not too dry. But its true notoriety comes from being a kind of second-rate imitation of the popular Kentucky Fried Chicken chain, right down to the same red and white colors and those familiar initials.

h/t: NYT and NYT

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