Surge in fake listings on social media as Mother’s Day nears

A study has found a spike in fake beauty products being sold via Instagram and Facebook in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day in the US.

The investigation by online brand protection agency Red Points was based on data collected for over 40 of its cosmetic and personal care clients in 2018 and identified a 40 per cent increase in counterfeit beauty products in May coinciding with shoppers’ pre-Mother’s Day shopping.

Mother’s Day is a big deal in the US, with Americans spending an average of $180 each – or a massive $23.1bn in total – on the holiday, making it an obvious target for counterfeiters.

In a finding that has big significance for brands, the investigation – based on a survey of 1,500 US consumers – found that 17 per cent of respondents had bought a gift that turned out to be a counterfeit, and of these 84 per cent said they would be hesitant about buying from the authentic brand again.

All told, 49 per cent of all fake beauty purchases were made on either Facebook or Instagram, and almost three quarters (73 per cent) of people polled said they regularly see social media content selling products they believe are counterfeit.

More than a third (37 per cent) also said that seeing content peddling fakes made them less likely to engage with posts from authentic brands.

“For a holiday where mothers are supposed to be showered with nothing but the best, it is shocking to find that so many counterfeits are still being given as gifts, intentionally or accidentally,” said Laura Urquizu, CEO and partner of Red Points.

“For brands, the damage goes beyond an upset mother. Our data shows that bad experience caused by fake product can turn a customer off a brand forever.”

The findings come at a time when beauty brands are increasingly turning to social media and influencers to drive sales, for example through the in-story purchase option in Instagram.

Meanwhile, the survey is another bit of bad press for Instagram on counterfeits in a matter of weeks, as a study from Ghost Data in April suggested nearly 20 per cent of all posts about fashion products on Instagram feature counterfeit products.

The report found more than 50,000 accounts promoting and selling counterfeits, which is a 171 per cent increase from an analysis I 2016 that found about 20,000 such accounts.

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