Shoppers often duped by fake footwear, says survey

Only a minority of consumers actively seek out counterfeits when buying shoes, according to a poll which finds that one in five people have bought fake footwear in the past.

The 315-person survey – by online brand protection company Red Points - also found that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents who had purchased a counterfeit were originally searching for the genuine product online, and a third (35 per cent) of all fake purchases were in error, with the buyer not aware the item wasn’t genuine.

The research found that counterfeiters are increasingly targeting social media sites like Instagram to place adverts and lure shoppers into buying knock-off online or as phishing scams. Unfortunately, 61 per cent of respondents saying they would buy footwear via a social media post, suggesting the trend has little chance of slowing down, and 49 per cent reported they would buy fake footwear if the discount was big enough.

“The survey findings are truly alarming and should come as a real warning for shoppers and brands alike of the danger of social media being used by counterfeiters to dupe consumers,” says Danae Vara Borrell, vice president, products, at Red Points.

“Counterfeiters are increasing using genuine product images for their listing and creating sophisticated websites made to look like brands’ official channels making it harder than ever for consumers to spot potential scams,” she adds.

A 2016 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 4 per cent of imports into the UK in 2013 were counterfeit, with electronic and electrical equipment, clothing and footwear were the most frequently faked product categories. Industry estimates value the fake footwear industry in the region of $12bn per year - around 10 per cent of the total global market value.

“Unless shoppers start adopting a cautious approach to online shopping, and brands start proactively monitoring their listings on both ecommerce sites and social media, businesses will continue to lose sales revenue to counterfeit goods,” says Vara Borrell.

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