Three in four consumers “won’t buy brands linked to fakes”

A survey of the public has found that 76 per cent would be less likely to buy from a brand that is regularly associated with fake goods – showing once again how important it is for brand owners to tackle counterfeiting.

Unsurprisingly, the poll by Sapio Research found that among those respondents that had inadvertently bought a fake product online, two thirds lost trust in the brand. But the consequences of that loss in trust means that nearly half (44 per cent) would think twice before buying the brand online.

Only 22 per cent of consumers surveyed said the availability of counterfeit goods of a brand would not affect their purchasing decision.

With online purchasing capturing an increasing share of the retail market – with 1.8 billion people worldwide buying goods online last year and spending $2.8trn – it is becoming increasingly important for companies to defend their brands’ reputation on the Internet. By 2021 the online spend is expected to reach $4.8bn, according to Statista.

The report – commissioned by brand protection specialist Incopro – found that a quarter of UK consumers had knowingly bought counterfeits in the last 12 months, with a similar proportion buying a fake unwittingly.

In a shocking indictment of the current practices of online marketplaces, 41 per cent of them said they have never received a refund despite reporting a seller of counterfeit goods, while almost one in 10 (9 per cent) said they had suffered injury or a health issue as a result of buying a fake product.

“Counterfeit goods have a major impact on customer perception and buying behaviour [and] brands ignore this at their peril,” says the report.

Critically, the effects of counterfeits on consumers wasn’t just restricted to online marketplaces, as it also seemed to drive down confidence of buying directly from brands' own websites.

While 35 per cent of respondents said they would be less likely to buy from an online marketplace associated with counterfeit goods of a certain brand, 34 per cent were also less likely to buy the same product directly from the brand’s website and 27 per cent less likely to purchase via social media.

Sapio also points to the alarming finding that 25 per cent of UK consumers knowingly bought a counterfeit, which it says suggests that “counterfeits are now so endemic that consumers are becoming inured to the concept.”

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of respondents also said that a brand’s reputation is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ when it comes to online purchases, with just 3 per cent saying it was not important to them.

Commenting on the findings, Simon Baggs, CEO of Incopro, said: “The availability of counterfeit goods online is clearly impacting sales for brands as well as consumer confidence. Identifying fakes is becoming harder and harder, so consumers and brands need a solution that installs confidence back into the e-commerce experience.

“Companies need to realise that IP and brand protection doesn’t just affect reputation – it is a vital tool in the sales process. A quantitative study into the work Incopro does showed an estimated 0.7-0.8 additional sales for every infringing social media account taken down – generating a significant amount in additional revenue and return on investment.”

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