Remember the days when toys were advertised in brochures and sales were restricted to the high street? A time before the internet? Before the big four tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple)? When retailers such as Toys R Us were the go-to store for playthings? Well, those days are gone. A new era is here, and brand protection must be made a priority.
Advancements in digital technology, the impact that the internet has had on the way brands promote their products, and changes in buyer behavior has been phenomenal. But so too has the increase in counterfeit toys and games appearing in marketplaces, websites, and social channels.
Toys and board game industry under pressure as China fuels the counterfeit market
A report from the Information Management Research Centre (IMARC) stated that in 2018 the global toys and games industry was worth an incredible USD 106 Billion and projected to reach USD 130 Billion by 2024.
It is therefore little surprise that counterfeiters are taking advantage of such a profitable market by copying, selling and distributing counterfeit and lookalike toys and games to unsuspecting shoppers online. Most of these counterfeit products are made in China, in fact the European Commission reported that 80% of seized counterfeit goods originate from the Asian country.
China has until recently offered little support when it comes to global brand protection. Due to less stringent regulations it is easier for counterfeiters to abuse intellectual property, selling, and distributing fake copies across the globe. We take a look at the latest consumers behaviors and trends relating to counterfeit toys and board games in our exclusive consumer research study.
The digital revolution, coupled with the pressure applied to the market by ever-increasing counterfeit goods has seen many toy shops close, employment within the industry fall and revenues drop as they battle to retain market share.
Counterfeiters are sophisticated and strategic
With counterfeiters using more sophisticated methods to advertise, promote and sell these cheap, lower quality copies, they are successfully duping consumers into believing that what they are buying is the genuine article. In fact, we discovered that 55.18% of those questioned in our recent survey have unintentionally purchased counterfeit toys and board games online.
Counterfeiters are abusing and imitating brands online. By taking brand logos and copying type fonts, colors, imagery and even product descriptions and using this intellectual property, they are replicating the official website using similar layouts, designs and even almost identical domain names. Sales are closed through clever pricing and promotions, convincing shoppers that they are getting a bargain as products are available for a fraction of the price of the genuine item. In fact, the techniques used by counterfeiters are so advanced that 53.39% of consumers are not confident that they would be able to decipher between what is real and what is fake.
These counterfeit goods are also being advertised across social platforms and sold through well-known marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Whilst some social media sites and marketplaces are beginning to take the issue of counterfeit goods and brand protection more seriously, a lot of work still needs to be done before consumers can feel safe when consuming content and shopping on these platforms. 55.39% of consumers believe that if a product is listed on a well-known marketplace then the product must be legitimate, however this percentage drops when we inquired about their trust in toys and board games advertised across social channels.
The advertising of these fake goods is not limited to marketplaces and social channels. Counterfeiters are using the same methods as the official brands to ensure they appear high in Google search listings and are also investing in paid ads. By appearing on well-known platforms and offering a variety of familiar payment options it builds consumer trust which all helps to achieve the overall goal of enticing a sale.
Safety a key issue, which highlights the importance of brand protection
In 2019 The Toy Association reported that almost one in three parents (31%) are unaware that counterfeit toys are being sold on major online marketplaces. The study also discovered that 70 percent of American parents were planning to purchase half or more of their Christmas gifts online.
Concerns have been growing over recent years as we see more horror stories relating to the dangers of unregulated counterfeit toys intended for the hands of young children. Risks associated with toxic materials, electrics, choking, and strangulation hazards are just some of the dangers linked to these fake goods.
As many of these counterfeit games and toys are intended as gifts to small children the safety issue is a huge cause for concern. In fact, we discovered that just a third of consumers who took part in our exclusive research study would stop their children from playing with counterfeit toys and games. Concerningly 55% of those questioned have or would be happy to buy a counterfeit toy or board game as a gift for the child of a friend or a relative.
Genuine products must comply with strict safety standards and regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose, but the same does not apply to these illicit copies. Not only are these unlicensed counterfeit toys often dangerous and not fit for purpose, but they are also infringing on trademarks, patents, and other intellectual property. In turn these infringements harm brand reputation, consumer confidence, the toy and game industry, and the economy. Brand protection must be made a priority for toy manufacturers and distributors in 2020.
What can be done to protect consumers?
Education has a big part to play here. Toys and board games found online with significant price reductions may appeal to consumers, but it is only a bargain if customers receive what they paid for. Often if the price looks too good to be true then it probably is. Shoppers must ensure that they only purchase goods from trusted sources, and the general awareness that counterfeit goods are being sold online is a message that must be shared.
Brands also have a responsibility to protect consumers by implementing strategies which include brand protection to restrict the number of counterfeit products being sold under their brand name. By doing so, consumer trust and their brand reputation will increase having a positive impact on sales and revenue. We discovered that 96% of consumers would act if they accidently bought a counterfeit online. Some would cease buying toys or board games from that particular brand (28.96%), whilst others would stop interacting with social content (18.54%) or warn friends about the risks of buying from the brand (16.25%). Just a handful would continue to shop with the brand as they had previously (3.75%).
Do you want to learn more about consumer behavior online?
Download our free toys and board games research study today, with access to all our facts and findings.