What people look for when shopping online and in-store to avoid counterfeits (based on survey results)

July 7, 2021
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engage What steps are you taking to avoid counterfeit products?

Counterfeit Product Survey Results: What Signs Do Shoppers Look for, and What Should They Be Looking For?

Counterfeiting is a serious problem right across the world. In 2021, e-commerce giant Amazon announced that they had destroyed $2 million worth of fake products at their distribution centers, underlining how even mainstream platforms are having to work hard to battle fraud.

We conducted a survey to learn more about consumer awareness of counterfeiting and knock-off brands. Read on to gain more insight into the results.

Customers Shopping Online

When it comes to online shopping, there is a degree of confusion, it seems, among consumers. Survey respondents identify many different aspects of online products as being very important or at least moderately important, and there are only a couple of percentage points separating the top three values.

  • When shopping online, customers identified the vendor website itself as the most important factor, with 66.21% of respondents describing this as very important and 26.38% describing it as moderately important.
  • Customer reviews were not far behind, with 65.52% citing this as a very important factor and 23.56% describing it as moderately important.
  • Locating the product on the brand's website and matching the product description to the one on the brand's website were cited as the next most important, with 63.79% and 62.93% describing these respective factors as very important and 27.07% describing each factor as moderately important.
  • Price, country of origin, and product images were all deemed less important factors.

While there was no overwhelming winner among consumers, the vendor website did come out on top by just under 0.7%. This is an interesting choice, and possibly a wise one — the vendor website can give you a clue about what to expect from the vendor itself after all. For example, if a vendor is selling high-end products but their website is of substandard quality, this may be a red flag.

Customer reviews also score highly. These are useful in determining the customer response to a product, which could, in turn, be an indication of its validity. However, it is worth bearing in mind that customer reviews can be faked, and a savvy approach is required if customers are to spot genuine reviews.

Customers Shopping In-store

Shopping in-store should make things easier for customers as the disconnection that is found online is removed. As customers can get up close with their products and physically hold them and look at them, it should be easier to spot a fake or a counterfeit item. However, this is not always the case.

Customers still need to take care when shopping in-store — they still need to be aware of signs to look out for and how to spot a fake or counterfeit product.

  • 73.79% of survey respondents said that the fabric and quality of a product was a very important thing to check when assessing the validity of the product. 20.34% classed this as moderately important.
  • There was a significant drop-off after this. The next highest-scoring factor was the price, with 60.52% of survey respondents describing this as very important and 33.28% identifying the factor as moderately important.
  • Next on the list was the product description — cited by 58.45% as very important and 30% as moderately important — and the packaging and presentation of the product, voted very important by 53.97% and moderately important by 24.48%.
  • The name of the store itself and the manufacturing country or product country of origin were deemed to be significantly less important than these other factors.

We can see more focus from customers shopping in-store — they place great importance on the quality of the product. This demonstrates the point already made: that customers believe being able to physically examine the product provides an extra level of defense. This is true, of course, but only to an extent. As many counterfeit products are fairly well-made copies of the original, it may be difficult to immediately differentiate real and fake products.

Pricing, product description, and packaging lagged behind quality in terms of perceived importance, but they still featured significantly in the responses. The old adage that "if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is" is invoked here, but this is not an infallible method of identifying a fake product. Similarly, product description and packaging may provide some indicators, but it is still difficult for the untrained eye to spot a counterfeit in this way.

What Consumers Should Do to Protect Themselves from Counterfeit Products

What steps do customers need to take to avoid counterfeiting? Let's take a look at some effective defenses against knock-off brands and products.

  • Stay engaged with their favorite brands

Brands are working hard to stop fraudsters and counterfeiters in their tracks. As a result, they tend to release any information they may have swiftly to help customers stay on top of the latest developments. This may include specifics about recent batches of counterfeit products that have been detected, such as serial numbers, defects, or other hallmarks to look out for.

However, this information is of no use if customers are not engaged. By engaging with the latest updates from the latest brands, customers have a good chance of detecting fraudulent products.

  • Adopt a multi-faceted approach

The survey results show us just how many different methods customers are using as they strive to keep themselves safe from counterfeit items. The problem is — as we have discussed — most of these methods are not foolproof, particularly if they are deployed in isolation.

Customers should consider a more diverse and multi-faceted strategy. For example, checking out the quality and feel of a product is important, but it is also useful to back this up by taking a look at the customer reviews for the particular vendor and item. This is also not an infallible approach, but it does reduce the chances of picking up a fraudulent item.

  • Use digital technologies

We live in a digital age, so it makes sense for customers to use digital solutions to achieve peace of mind while shopping. Digital platforms such as engage™ give businesses a means to register their products, scanning the specific barcodes and listing the features of genuine items.

From the customer's end, they can simply scan the product using the engage™ app installed on their smartphone. This provides instant verification and serves as a strong defense against counterfeiters. As adoption of such technologies increases — both on the manufacturer's side and on that of the customer — the solution will become increasingly effective, and counterfeiters will find it increasingly difficult to defraud businesses and the general public.

  • Be aware of the cost of counterfeits

Sometimes, the lure of convenience, low prices, and relatively good quality is too much. In these instances, consumers may succumb to the temptation and purchase a knock-off brand.

This is playing straight into the hands of counterfeiters and may even be contributing to a far broader spectrum of problems. Counterfeit goods not only put public health and safety at risk, undermine the economy, and take revenue directly from the hands of hardworking creatives and business owners, but they have also been linked to crimes such as human trafficking and illegal drug distribution.

Using engage™ to Stop Fraudsters

engage™ provides a platform that businesses can use to register their verified products and an app that gives immediate confirmation of validity for end-user consumers. Reach out to our team today to request a free tour of this digital solution and discover more about what it offers.

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