Who buys fakes -- and why? Some surprising survey results

Have you ever wondered about consumers who buy counterfeit products? What sort of people might they be?  If so, the IPKat can share with you the information which he has recently received from Roy Crozier (a partner in the Manchester-based law firm Clarke Willmott LLP), who writes:
"I thought I would send to you a link to a counterfeiting survey we have recently commissioned with our client ghd [if you're unfamiliar with this company, take a look at its products: these aren't luxury goods with vast per-item profit margins, but hair-treatment products which are generally beneath the level at which it's worth making official complaints and taking legal proceedings if you discover you've bought an infringing product].  The survey, which is one of the biggest of its kind, was of 2,081 adults in the UK. It was carried out by YouGov and was representative in terms of age and social background etc.  The survey can be found here.

The survey, revealed that 21% of men interviewed across the UK had knowingly bought fake goods, which is 50% more than was the case with women interviewed (14%) [it would be good to know how this breaks down as between different product categories: if recorded music and films were removed, would the gender difference be so pronounced?]. A further 10% of men said that they had been tempted to buy counterfeits. Across both genders, 17% had purchased such goods with an additional 9% admitting that they had been tempted to do so.
Less likely to buy fakes ...
The survey confirmed our expectations that older people are less likely to purchase counterfeit goods (22% of 25-34 year olds compared to 13% of the over 55s) [might that be because they buy fewer goods online, the Kat wonders]. As to the main reasons why they would consider buying fake goods, more than a fifth of adults (22%) stated that it was due to the fact that they are cheaper, whilst 14% put it down to having less money to spend as a result of the recession [those two reasons probably overlap, so the difference between them may not be too significant].

More than a fifth (22%) said that they would be happy to receive such goods in the lead-up to Christmas [This is a frighteningly high figure, given that counterfeits are less likely to fulfil manufacturing and consumer protection regulations] with 10% stating they would as friends and family are struggling to pay for presents (10%). Again there were substantial regional variations in attitudes with 34% in Scotland stating that they would be happy to receive such goods compared to only 17% in the South West of England.

The top counterfeit products that people would buy or receive in the future are shoes and clothing (14% would consider buying and 16% would be happy to receive them respectively), watches and jewellery (11% and 14% respectively) and DVDs, CDs and computer games (11% and 13% respectively). Bizarrely 9% of people in Northern Ireland would consider buying counterfeit alcohol or cigarettes [ah, but would they consider drinking or smoking them ...?]. In London it was a mere 1% whilst in the UK as a whole it was 4%.

In England, the highest percentage of people who have bought counterfeit products was in London (19%), whilst in the UK as a whole it was Northern Ireland (23%), followed by Scotland (22%). The area with the lowest percentage of people who had bought counterfeit products was the East of England (13%).

The research also highlighted that [only] 61% of consumers interviewed are worried about becoming a victim of counterfeit goods in the lead up to Christmas. Over a third (38%) are worried they might mistakenly buy counterfeit goods as more come on-stream as Christmas approached. 44% are worried about providing credit/debit card details to potentially unscrupulous people, 28% about buying something online and not receiving it, and 26% about product safety".
If nothing else, it sounds as though some sort of pro-IP charm offensive is required for young male smokers and drinkers in Northern Ireland, says Merpel.
Who buys fakes -- and why? Some surprising survey results Who buys fakes -- and why? Some surprising survey results Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, December 25, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. Would be really interested to take a look at that survey. Unfortunatellly the like you provided only leads to an advertising brochure of the law firm.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous -- I've rectified the problem.

  3. GHDs not a luxury item? As the other half of a GHD devotee, I can 100% rebut this with a single pair of links:

    GHDs are a triumph of marketing over technology; they are 100% brand in terms of their appeal. I'm truly surprised that the Kat considers their products "generally beneath the level at which it's worth making official complaints and taking legal proceedings".

    Perhaps the Kat is a shorthair, and should ask some longhairs their opinion...

  4. It is junk with a brand name owned by a company that can afford to pay lawyers for a counterfeit survey. That's not luxury, but overpriced tat.

    There is too much tat in the world and the quality is not better than the counterfeits.

    Brands worked because they were a sign of quality, but that is now diluted by advertising of tat. There are still some trustworthy brands, but many companies now use their 'quality' label to make huge profits on shoddily made goods. That's just business today, but they need to be careful what they sow.

  5. Interesting that only 14% of women said they bought fakes, I think the actual figure would be much higher. Fake ghds are a huge problem online unfortunately, I do often wonder how many people knowingly buy the fakes and how many are conned.

    I've put together a guide to avoiding fake ghds which has got some tips on making sure you are buying from an authorised retailer.


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