Q&A

Counterfeit Purchases: Deliberate or Not?

KGO interviews MarkMonitor brand protection expert, Akino Chikada to learn about the latest counterfeit trends.

Akino Chikada, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, MarkMonitor

Akino started her career in public relations and marketing in London and has worked in Europe, Asia and the United States. She has led and served interim roles in global marketing strategies, product marketing, events management, public relations, corporate communications and regional marketing. Akino holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University College of London, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics, and has trilingual fluency in English, Italian and Japanese.

Counterfeit goods pervade online marketplaces, but are consumers who purchase these products doing so intentionally, or are they being duped? Michael Finney of Consumer Talk on KGO radio delved into the subject with Akino Chikada, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at MarkMonitor, referencing the recently released 2016 MarkMonitor Online Shopping Barometer.

23%

Customers who have unwillingly or unknowingly purchased a fake product.

So, you guys released your annual report, which you guys call a barometer. What did you find this year, how are things going? Are people buying counterfeits on purpose or are they being tricked into it? What are you finding?

Excellent question. So this year a couple of interesting thoughts, so 23 percent of the consumers we surveyed, have unwilling or unknowingly purchased a fake product. So, they purchased a counterfeit product online and to our point, yes, 18 percent of the shoppers have intentionally bought a counterfeit product.

So overall, there are more people who didn’t realize they were buying a counterfeit product, but there are certainly 18 percent of the shoppers that are intentionally purchasing it.

Now you guys say when it comes to the price, counterfeiters are wising up. What does that mean?

Very good point, yes. So, before, a red flag would be if the product was $100 and you viewed the same product being sold for $20, it probably is a counterfeit product, but counterfeiters are becoming a lot more savvy.

They are starting to use closer price-points, making the price-point a lot more credible so maybe, instead of $100 they would price it at $90 or $85, making consumers think that they are still getting a really good deal, but realistic enough that it doesn’t look like a counterfeit product.

18 percent of the shoppers have intentionally bought a counterfeit product.

Akino Chikada
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, MarkMonitor

When you go on some of these counterfeit websites, especially for watches — I did stories on this a few years back — and they would have like two or three levels of counterfeit watches, and one would be $100 and one would be $250 and one at $750. I assume they are all the exact same watch, they are just seeing if they can get me to send them more money. Is that correct? Do they have different levels of counterfeit on their counterfeit website?

That’s a good question. I think there are definitely some counterfeit products that are a bit higher quality. Then again, especially if you are selling these products online, it is hard to tell.

So if you are shopping and you are physically there and you see some guy on the street selling the counterfeit product then at least you can assess it, but online it is really hard to be able to assess quality of the product. So you are kind of guessing at that point.

Yes and if you are dealing with a guy who is admitting he is a counterfeiter, and he has got three levels of counterfeit items, why wouldn’t he rip you off too?

Exactly

Yes and if you are dealing with a guy who is admitting he is a counterfeiter, and he has got three levels of counterfeit items, why wouldn’t he rip you off too?

My theory on that, and if I was not so cheap I would buy all three levels and see what I got. You say make sure it is a reputable site. I mean, that means if you are buying products that get knocked off, I mean that means go to the big ones, right, the ones we know, the names we trust.

Yes, so a good rule of thumb is obviously you draw on the good of the legitimate brand’s name and just buy directly from there. But often times legitimate brands will also have authorized sellers and partners and they also promote who those people are, right, so you can directly go to that site and go to that particular link and shop from those stores.

There are definitely some counterfeit products that are a bit higher quality.

Akino Chikada
Sr. Product Marketing Manager, MarkMonitor

You say that some of the websites look very professional but you ought to check out the “About” or “Fact” page. Why, do they get lazy and not go that deep?

You bet. Yes, it is funny, they will invest a lot of time in making the most obvious pages, especially where they are trying to sell the product. Deeper down, and suddenly you will start seeing bad grammar, you will start seeing typos; they get a lot lazier.

Well yes, go getters did not become thieves, right? I mean that is kind of the deal I guess.

Most consumers who purchase counterfeit goods are not doing so on purpose, so it is crucial to give them the tools to discern an authentic item from a phony one. Some consumer best practices are paying attention to the price, investigating seller websites and purchasing directly from the brand.

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