As Christmas nears, more people are being duped by counterfeits

Counterfeiters are proving to be becoming more cunning as increasing numbers of online consumers fall victim to fake goods, a new report reveals.

According to MarkMonitor’s Online Barometer for global online shopping, 31 per cent of consumers have unwittingly bought a fake product, which is a 35 per cent increase on the findings from last year’s survey and reflects the upward shift in online behaviour.

The results come as consumers rush to do the last of their Christmas shopping amid numerous warnings by authorities to be aware of purchasing fakes. Several brands, such as the robotic Fingerlings toys, have already been a target of counterfeits ahead of Christmas.

Of those MarkMonitor survey respondents who were duped, half said it happened just once, while 34 per cent said it had happened two to three times. And 11 per cent said they had been fooled into buying a fake product three to five times, with 5 per cent claiming it had happened more than five times.

Indeed, the report – which surveyed almost 3,500 consumers from the UK, US, and several European countries – found that 45 per cent of shoppers were worried about unintentionally buying imitation goods, with 63 per cent particularly uneasy about buying fake goods for children.

Sixty-one per cent said they were concerned about being duped by links in social media posts, while 55 per cent were wary of paid advertisements and 51 per cent links in search results. Smartphone apps and online marketplaces also raised alarm bells among 44 per cent and 40 per cent of respondents, respectively.

Yet this is despite the rise in popularity of online shopping – nearly half the survey respondents’ shopping is done online outside of groceries; up a third on last year – as well as high levels of confidence in buying goods off the internet, MarkMonitor found.

“These findings demonstrate the scale of the counterfeiting issue: yes, shoppers are more aware of the threat, but they continue to get duped by counterfeiters. This perhaps shows that cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their methods making it more difficult to spot fakes,” the report said. “As cyber criminals become more sophisticated, online shoppers need to be well-informed and vigilant when it comes to their safety. This will remain important given the growing popularity of online shopping.”

When it came to the types of counterfeits that were inadvertently purchased, MarkMonitor found that clothing and apparel ranked most popular (32 per cent), followed by electronics and digital goods (26 per cent) and perfume and cosmetics (20 per cent).

Fake goods were found to be bought through a number of channels, the top three being: online marketplaces (42 per cent); links found in search results (15 per cent); and social media (10 per cent). Ironically, these three channels were among those where shoppers felt most secure, MarkMonitor noted.

Brands 'should do more'

However, according to the survey, 86 per cent of consumers believed brands should do more to protect consumers from buying knockoffs.

Findings showed that consumer behaviour had consequences on brands when counterfeits were purchased: 44 per cent of respondents who unwillingly bought a fake said they warned family and friends about the brand, while one in four stopped spending on the brand altogether, and more than one-fifth (22 per cent) said their perception of the brand worsened.

“The Internet makes it easier for cyber criminals and counterfeiters to take advantage of consumers, giving them the channels and means to advertise and sell fake goods, putting both consumers and brands at risk. For shoppers, this means continued vigilance when purchasing online. For a brand, it means having a comprehensive and sustained brand protection strategy in place to protect itself and its customers,” the report said.

The full report can be accessed here:

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