One way to signal one’s status is through the products one uses. The possession of a fake designer CHANEL or HERMÈS bag, among others, and counterfeit branded luxury goods constitutes part of the extended self. We measure our worth, consciously or not, by the products we own and the brands we use.
There is a significant market for counterfeit products around the world. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that international trade in counterfeit and pirated products has increased from 250 billion USD in 2008 is bound to reach 1.82 Trillion USD by the year 2020. Branded goods manufacturers are always thinking of ways to thwart counterfeit goods sellers, for example, by date stamping the products with unique codes or authenticity cards. However, such measures will not be effective against consumers who buy counterfeit products knowingly.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of fake consumption – deceptive and non-deceptive.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of fake consumption – deceptive and non-deceptive. Deceptive counterfeiting happens when consumers buy counterfeit products under the impression that the product is a brand original. In such situations, regulation and measures used to differentiate the authentic products from the fakes will be helpful. However, a broader piece of counterfeit consumption comes from non-deceptive counterfeit use. In such situations, consumers actively search for and purchase counterfeit products.
Intuitively, one assumes buyers of counterfeit products come from developing countries and within each country, the lower-income group. Such intuition is driven in part by the assumption that people buy counterfeit products because they cannot afford to buy the “real” thing. Much research has shown that this is not true, high profile businesswomen and executives are among the purchasers of counterfeit bags. After all, how many people can afford $ 4,000 for a designer bag?
Financial scarcity does not appear to be the most crucial reason people buy fake products.
Though financial scarcity may be a driver of counterfeit consumption, it does not appear to be the most crucial reason people buy fake products. Counterfeit use is rather driven by style choices, societal pressure, and individuals’ mindsets. Two groups of buyers fall in this category – one group, driven by impression management concerns, and another who buys counterfeit products as they do not price in the value of intangible attributes such as product development costs.
A discussion is going on about rising social inequality. What is the implication of this for the consumption of counterfeit products?As long as there is a gap in social status, people in the lower echelon of society will aspire to move up in social status. Luxury brands become a tool to fulfill our status enhancement goals. This drives the sales of luxury brands, and to a large extent, the secondary market of counterfeit products.
One key driver of counterfeit consumption is consumers’ perceptions that the high price of the authentic product is unwarranted.
A desire for branded goods does not automatically imply a willingness to pay for such products. One key driver of counterfeit consumption is consumers’ perceptions that the high price of the authentic product is unwarranted. Though many consumers want to be seen carrying a GUCCI or DIOR bag, not many are willing to pay its price. Many consumers do not understand why they should pay such a high price for an authentic branded bag. Most consumers focus on the tangible aspect of consumption, for example, the material used to manufacture the product.
80 percent indicated that they do not feel guilty.
Asked undergraduate students in Singapore whether they feel guilty when they buy counterfeit products, 80 percent indicated that they do not feel guilty. Many of us do not think that counterfeiting a product is inherently wrong. This may, to some extent, be the key reason behind the normalization of counterfeit consumption. There is no stigma when one admits to buying counterfeit products. It is common, and in some cases, such buyers are seen as smart shoppers. In such an environment, it is hard to convince consumers otherwise.
As long as there is a gap between the haves and have-not in the society, as long as we measure our worth by the brands we own, there will always be a demand for counterfeit consumption.Any time there is demand, there will be suppliers who will try to deliver in on demand. Counterfeit products are here to stay.
The article was adapted from the article: Who on earth still buys branded customer goods by Sharon NG.