In November 2014 Wal-Mart announced that it would price match selected online retailers, including Amazon.com. Price match campaigns are not unusual but in this case, several customers took advantage of the retailer’s initiative to buy $400 PlayStation 4 consoles for under $100 using listings on Amazon that were selling suspected counterfeit goods at extremely low prices. This raises an interesting question – how complicit are consumers in the ongoing growth of counterfeit goods being distributed over the Internet?
A simple answer to this question would be that consumers are knowingly fuelling the counterfeit challenge. In the 2013 PwC report “Counterfeit goods in the UK”, 41% of all respondents said they ‘sometimes’ buy counterfeit clothes or accessories. ‘Sometimes’ indicates that this is not just a chance happening, but that it is a behavior of which the buyer is fully aware and will continue to display unless they are compelled to change. Allied to the fact that over 80% of the same respondents think that counterfeiting is morally wrong, there is an opportunity for Brand Owners, NGOs and Governments to turn the tide, educate the consumer and persuade them to buy real goods in the future.
Many Brand Owners have a reluctance (perceived or otherwise) to publicly acknowledge that there is a significant global trade in counterfeits. There are some notable exceptions to this, but Brand Owners could certainly do a lot more to help themselves, by educating the consumer that this is not a victimless crime.
The European Commission states that “the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods would not exist without consumer demand”. Unless that demand is reduced, there is a real risk that Brand Owners will continue to see a year-on-year rise in counterfeits.
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