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