Consumers look to brands for online protection, study shows

We have seen a dramatic rise in online sales in recent years – the Office for National Statistics reports an increase from, 9.7% five years ago, to 18% today, as a percentage of all sales.

This represents a huge opportunity for retailers – but unfortunately, they are not the only ones benefiting. Counterfeiters, fraudsters and cyber criminals are cashing in too.

Just as the web can be used to promote, market and sell legitimate brands, it’s also an ideal tool for counterfeiters to sell fake goods. And this is especially true in the gift-giving season, with 91% doing at least some of our shopping online, according to our recent research.

What do the numbers say?

Consumers may no longer be naïve when it comes to online shopping – our research shows that almost two-thirds of respondents check the trustworthiness of websites by looking at online reviews, and 43% say they check for SSL certificates. Despite this, shoppers are still being duped into buying fake products.

The prevalence of fakes on the Internet, coupled with the sophisticated methods counterfeiters are using to market and sell them, means it’s not always easy to spot one. Sometimes they are not always noticeably that much cheaper, or visibly different from the real thing. Indeed, our research shows that one in three consumers has inadvertently bought a fake product, with 68% of these purchases being bought as festive gifts.

Brands cannot rely on the vigilance of their consumers alone – they need to ensure they’re doing all they can to protect their reputation, their bottom line and, most importantly, their customers. This sentiment was also reflected in our research with the majority of consumers (88%) who have fallen victim to counterfeiters saying that believe brands should be doing more to protect them from the online counterfeit threat.

A health and safety concern

Along with the disappointment of discovering a product is a counterfeit, consumers also find they’ve lost money. But this is not the biggest worry –  according to the Journal of Trading Standards, faulty electrical products cause 7,000 household fires each year. Counterfeit toys can also pose a risk to health and safety and fake cosmetics and pharmaceuticals can have a significant impact on health.

The consequences of counterfeit products are far-reaching; affecting not just the genuine brand, customer trust, and revenues, but also the wider economy in terms of job losses, health and safety, and even funding criminal activities.
Combating counterfeiting should remain a key mission for brands – not just in the luxury goods market, but across all industries.

Building your strategy

For many, this will include developing a comprehensive online brand protection strategy as part of a wider brand protection plan. Whether this plan is implemented and managed in-house, or with the help of a brand protection expert, the fact remains that it is vital in the fight against counterfeiting and counterfeiters, both in the festive period and throughout the year.

For more information about protecting your consumers and impacts to your business, read our latest Global Online Shopping Survey.