Why do people buy counterfeits?

When it comes to shopping most of us love a bargain and the thrill of saving some pounds can be tempting. But what if the product we buy is cheap because it’s a counterfeit? We’ve explored a few of the reasons why people buy copycats.

In many cases consumers unknowingly buy counterfeits. They purchase goods online from a seemingly reputable website, however on arrival the goods look nothing like the genuine product or simply don’t arrive. For those who don’t realise the goods are counterfeit, this is worrying and dangerous, as cheap knock-offs can have huge safety concerns as they have not been put through rigorous safety tests or meet basic trading standards. Fake electronics can cause fires and phony toys can fall apart easily making them choking hazards. There are horror stories of women having their lips stuck to together after buying fake designer brand lipsticks and of counterfeit cosmetics containing dangerous ingredients like arsenic.

However, in other circumstances people who buy fake goods are fully aware the product is not genuine. Many of us will be familiar with overseas holidays where there is an abundance of fake Rolexes or designer handbags for sale at local markets at beachside resorts. What may seem like a fun purchase and victimless crime at the time, can actually mask a dark and hidden underworld. By purchasing these goods your money is supporting modern day slavery, drug and human trafficking and child exploitation. The profits made also support organised crime gangs not just overseas but in local communities, not to mention the unpaid taxes and the lost revenue that can put genuine sellers out of business.

Some people have such desire to own designer goods that they will overlook the fact they are fake, especially if they are realistic copies. This type of consumer may ‘talk themselves into’ the purchase, there may be in-depth research to finding a ‘great quality fake’ online or on social media platforms and convincing themselves they’re not doing any harm. In many cases this type of counterfeit product may look so similar to the genuine item, even experts will have difficulty telling them apart.  

For others there is a thrill in ‘ripping off’ a big-name brand. They may believe goods are overpriced to start with or they don’t understand or appreciate the history and workmanship that goes into making the product. Will a luxury brand go bust because you bought a fake watch at a market? Probably not. However, for many other brand owners, the blood sweat and tears that has gone into building their product behind the scenes, the theft of their intellectual property is devastating.

It’s also crucial to consider the bigger picture, as for every global luxury brand, there are entrepreneurs worldwide who have spent thousands of pounds and many years bringing their product legally to market. For these brands counterfeits are harmful on so many levels; losing them profits, customer confidence and damage to their reputation.

Whilst buying a counterfeit may not seem damaging compared to other crimes, it is still theft – the theft of intellectual property. Counterfeiting will only continue as long as there is demand. In the UK it is illegal to sell and buy counterfeit goods, and it is an offence for someone’s intellectual property to be used without their permission. Think twice before you buy counterfeit, and remember the saying ‘buy cheap, pay twice’.

If you think you have purchased a counterfeit product online or would like tips to shop safely have a look here for more help.