Survey finds public less likely to seek out fake goods online

Online shopping A large-scale survey of consumers' online shopping habits has found that their tendency to search for counterfeit goods online is on the wane, and they are less likely to visit a rogue Internet store by accident.

The MarkMonitor survey also finds however that counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their pricing strategy, pitching them at a 20 to 25 per cent discount to the genuine item, in recognition that too steep a discount can sound alarm bells among consumers.

Scammers are increasingly using brand owners' latest photography, logos and advertising campaigns to lend credence to their sites, it suggests.

The poll of more than 285,000 online shoppers in the US and five European countries - carried out on behalf of MarkMonitor by Neilsen - found that one in 28 shoppers actively sought out counterfeit items, a reduction from one in 20 when the survey was last carried out in 2012.

Similarly, just 10 per cent of respondents had inadvertently visited rogue sites, compared to 20 per cent in the earlier poll.

The raw data is somewhat hard to interpret, according to MarkMonitor, which said: "more study will be needed to determine whether this is a function of savvier consumers or the effects of brands' efforts to combat rogue sites."

There was no change from the prior study in terms of intent, with one in six respondents who had stumbled upon a rogue site showing intent to buy by placing the item in their shopping cart.

Those most likely to purchase counterfeits were typically older shoppers - in the 31 to 50 age bracket and more likely to be female - with the demographics similar between the US and Europe.

"Price-conscious shoppers find fakes while looking for bargains," said MarkMonitor.

"While some consumers opt for a counterfeit when the original proves too expensive, other consumers can be so intent on purchasing their brand of choice that they unknowingly shop at sites selling counterfeits while seeking a bargain."

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