The global sportswear market in 2019 is said to be worth an eye watering 180.96 billion US dollars, having enjoyed continuous and significant year on year growth. The market however is extremely fragmented, whether we’re looking at basic ranges or luxury brand name goods there are a huge number of established brands fighting to maintain market share, whilst new brands struggle to be noticed in such a competitive environment.
The online market has grown hand in hand with changes in consumer lifestyles, as an increasing number of individuals are taking up new sports and exercises motivated by the desire to lead cleaner, healthier lifestyles and a love for all things social. But what has this meant for the sportswear industry?
Who are these consumers buying sportswear and what’s influencing them?
From Baby Boomers to Post Millennial there’s no denying that it’s fashionable to lead fit and healthy lifestyles. The introduction and popularity of social channels such as Instagram and Facebook have clearly helped to encourage new trends as interactions with friends, family and even strangers online has become a part of our daily lives. How others view us is at the forefront of these new trends.
Sharing photos of our active lifestyles, whether it be in a yoga class, climbing a mountain, swimming in a lake, running across cities or cutting an avocado our lives are being documented through videos and photos online. Having the latest sportswear gives consumers an identity, the ability to stand out from others and the brand can even provide insights into the user’s social status.
These new channels and technological developments have also allowed sportswear brands to use new vehicles to promote and sell their latest ranges of footwear, clothing, protective items and accessories. Online channels mean brands and retailers can be more intelligent with advertising and marketing budgets, tracking the success of campaigns, customer lifetime values and exactly how consumers interact with the brand itself.
It may come as no surprise that the sportswear market, like many others is being impacted by the level of counterfeit copies offered across these channels. We at Smart Brand Protection conducted an exclusive consumer research study to better understand the latest trends and behaviors towards sportswear and fake copies online.
So, who’s benefitting from these behavioral changes?
Well, it’s clear that the brands and retailers who sell genuine sportswear have witnessed the market go from strength to strength. A 2019 Statista report predicts that the market will continue to grow over the next five years, and that by 2025 the global sportswear market will be worth a staggering 207.79 billion US dollars.
As aforementioned, counterfeiters have recognized the size of the market and the potential to generate profits and are using similar techniques as the official brands and licensed stores to promote these illegal items and grow their market share.
Our exclusive Smart Brand Protection consumer research study delves into the world of counterfeit sportswear which is being promoted and sold online. In order to understand the scale of the problem, we must first understand the relationship these shoppers have with counterfeit sportswear…
What did we discover?
Well, almost half (44.15%) of respondents have bought counterfeit sportswear online, some having done accidentally, whilst others did so knowingly. It seems that many of those that did so knowingly were attracted by the lower prices, this was confirmed as 37.14% believe that they could be convinced to buy the genuine item if prices were lower.
77.19% of respondents are aware that counterfeit sportswear is being sold online so that leaves almost a quarter of those questioned who are oblivious to these activities. Concerningly, more than half (51.74%) conceded that they couldn’t or accepted that they would have difficulty in identifying counterfeit goods when shopping online.
The misplaced trust that consumers have when shopping for sportswear in marketplaces (such as Amazon) is a genuine cause for concern. We found that an incredible 41.62% believe that if a product is being sold through an official marketplace then it must be genuine. This trust was considerably reduced when they were questioned about their confidence relating to the authenticity of goods which are advertised across social channels.
What are the tactics being used by counterfeiters to dupe consumers into making a purchase?
Counterfeiters are applying sophisticated methods to deceive consumers into purchasing fake goods online costing the industry huge sums of money each year. The objective is to make shoppers believe that what they are viewing is the genuine item, but how is this done?
Counterfeiters build websites which mimic the look and feel of the official brand or online store using the exact same images, copy and product descriptions. This fools customers into believing that they are shopping at an official store, those that have not previously shopped with the genuine brand are more easily deceived. These websites have similar domain names to that of the official website making it harder for consumers to differentiate between counterfeit websites and the real deal.
Organic traffic is generated through the use of keywords, these keywords relate to popular search terms. Once the consumer is on the website, they often find products on sale at a fraction of the price of the genuine item to encourage sales… if a deal looks too good to be true then it usually is!
What can be done?
Well it’s clear from our findings that consumers are vulnerable to counterfeit sportswear when shopping online and more needs to be done to protect them. Much of the responsibility lies with the official brand, resellers, marketplaces, social channels and apps to ensure that measures are in place to eliminate the advertising and sale of these fake goods. For those selling goods online a brand protection strategy is essential.
It seems education is also required; the trust consumers seem to have when shopping in marketplaces for example is concerning, and more caution and awareness of the dangers associated with online shopping must be adopted for a safer shopping experience.