Counterfeits and fake merchandise now account for 3.3% of global trade according to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Whilst counterfeit and brand protection is a key element of any successful business strategy, especially with the accelerated growth in e-commerce. Many businesses are still not doing enough to combat this growing and harmful practice online.
There are several e-commerce counterfeit myths, and it´s time that some of these misconceptions were cleared up. So, here are six of the most common beliefs, and in this article, we expose the truth behind each.
1. Only products from the most well-known brands, or certain categories are at risk
It´s a fact that certain product categories are more susceptible to counterfeit copies than others. Clothing and fashion accessories, footwear, watches and jewelry, handbags and wallets, electronics, and pharmaceutical products all appear in the in the top 10. However, cybercriminals are finding ways to replicate all types of goods.
Counterfeiters will replicate anything which can generate revenue, just some examples are car parts, medicines, and even sex toys, so no industry is safe.
It´s clear that popular products from well-known global and luxury brands are the most obvious target for cybercriminals, but make no mistake, even the smallest startups, operating in local markets are at risk from counterfeits and brand abuse online. It´s time that every brand gains visibility of the threats that exist on the internet, rather than assuming that their products and brands are safe from these infringements.
2. It´s easy to identify counterfeits online
Perhaps when we think about an e-commerce counterfeit item, we imagine a website, product listing, or post which contains low quality, unofficial images, content littered with spelling mistakes, and easy to spot design flaws. Well this simply isn´t true, today rogue websites, fake social accounts, and products listed for sale in popular marketplaces can be hard to identify, even by the most experienced eyes.
Through intellectual property abuse, official imagery and product descriptions are used alongside logos and positioned to deceive unsuspecting consumers. Today, sophisticated scams are making it almost impossible to identify counterfeit items online.
In our recent e-commerce consumer research study, we discovered that one in four shoppers have in fact unintentionally purchased a fake or counterfeit item whilst shopping online, and despite this alarming figure, two in five are certain that they could spot a counterfeit being advertised or sold via a digital channel.
Of course, there are some obvious tell-tale signs, such as an extra word or letter in the URL, the option to purchase a huge number of units, or the exclusion of official brand and product names in marketplaces. Consumers must be alert to these indicators, and brands must ensure they are protecting their customers, their revenue, and reputation, online.
3. Counterfeit prices are always low, and delivery times are long
It´s clear that many counterfeit items sold online are available for just a fraction of the price of the original item, in fact this reduced pricing method is used to encourage sales. However, not all counterfeits are sold for less. The most convincing rogue websites, or product listings often provide fake goods at the same price as the original, a tactic used to further convince consumers that what they are seeing is the real deal. If price is used as the sole indicator to determine whether something is genuine or a counterfeit, then this is a significant issue.
Product delivery times have also improved over recent years, with consumers enjoying next day, or even same day delivery. There is a belief that counterfeiters are unable to match this speed of service, well, once again this is incorrect. The same speedy delivery options also apply to counterfeit goods and should not be used as the sole measure as to whether a product is legitimate or fake.
4. E-commerce counterfeits are not found or promoted on well-established marketplaces or social networks
Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest misconceptions of all. Recognized marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, and social networks including Facebook and Instagram all list counterfeit products, despite countless consumers believing otherwise.
We discovered that 87% of those questioned in our e-commerce research study shop on digital marketplaces, and many let their guard down due to their often-unfounded trust in these well-known channels. It´s clear why those looking to exploit unsuspecting shoppers on these channels are driving sales with little effort, particularly throughout the Christmas period and over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, when shoppers are searching for great offers and increasing their spend.
5. E-commerce counterfeits are always low quality
Thanks to technological advancements, and sophisticated production methods such as 3D printing, the ease in which well-known or high demand items can easily be replicated, is a huge cause for concern. It´s these super fakes which are duping consumers. Whilst some crude copies do exist, this is not always the case. Cheap materials are easier to come by than ever before, with many of these counterfeits originating from China.
It´s important to consider that as the quality of these counterfeits improves, so does the demand for shoppers who are intentionally searching for and purchasing these falsified items. We found that 52% of those questioned have intentionally purchased a counterfeit product online, whilst an additional 9% haven´t, but would be happy to do so.
If brands don´t take the threat of e-commerce counterfeits seriously, we can safely assume that counterfeiters will continue to enhance the quality of their products, we are likely to see more and more consumers actively searching for and purchasing these cheaper, fake, but good quality alternatives.
6. There is little or nothing that brands can do to remove counterfeits, the cost is simply too great
This too is an e-commerce counterfeit myth. Today there are many solutions which can support e-commerce businesses in protecting their products and brand online. In fact, not only can companies protect their brand reputations, but the cost of a brand or counterfeit protection service can deliver a return on investment.
We discovered that 30% of consumers hold official brands directly accountable for the number of counterfeit products which can be found under their name online. When we consider the likelihood of consumers warning friends about buying products from the official brand (34%), or receiving negative customer reviews or ratings (33%), which both play an important part in influencing future sales, the question should be can you afford not to implement brand and product protection online?
At Smart Brand Protection we provide both monitoring and elimination services which protect both your products and brand online. As members of Googles Trusted Copyright Removal Program (TCRP), and our special relationships with the main social networks, and marketplaces we can detect and eliminate infringements quickly and efficiently, which sets us apart from our competitors.
Do you want to know if your brand is being infringed online?
Your brand could be at risk from counterfeiting and brand abuse online, request your free Brand Scan today.