MAKING ITS MARK: MarkMonitor, which specializes in enterprise brand protection, has released the results of a survey of global shopping habits and their impact on the sale of counterfeit goods.

The company works with brands including Belstaff, Karen Millen and the Cambridge Satchel Company to address the growing threat of online fraud and the proliferation of unauthorized channels.

The research is based on more than 3,500 interviews, conducted across nine countries in Europe and the U.S. Key conclusions reveal a correlation between the increase in online shopping and the increasing sales of counterfeit goods, with 24 percent of consumers polled having purchased fake merchandise unintentionally.

Sales of counterfeit goods increase significantly during the festive season, as consumers ramp up their online shopping. Some 34 percent of those polled shopped online during 10 months of the year, but that shopper figure was 15 percent higher in the months of December and January.

The use of social media to sell fashion has also exacerbated the issue. Alison Conway, vice president of client and omnichannel at Belstaff, said Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular platforms for selling Belstaff counterfeit goods. Bogus goods are also sold on unauthorized Web sites.

The majority of those polled had a strong stance against buying fake goods, for both quality and moral reasons. In addition, 64 percent said they were aware of the lack of online security but had difficulty determining whether a Web site was legitimate.

“With the level of sophistication that counterfeiters are using in their Web sites, it is becoming increasingly harder for customers to determine if products are genuine,” said Mark Frost, chief executive officer of MarkMonitor.

In response, Belstaff has worked on a series of initiatives to educate its customers about the brand’s heritage and production process, through content published on its site, as well as video content on YouTube. The content will be adapted accordingly as the brand expands into the Chinese and Japanese markets in 2016.

“We can’t afford to lose trust. Once you lose trust, it’s almost impossible to rebuild it,” said Conway.

As reported in October, Belstaff — working with MarkMonitor — won a landmark battle against counterfeiters, following a civil lawsuit in the U.S.

Judges ordered counterfeiters to pay more than $42 million in damages in the case, which resulted in 676 rogue Web sites being taken down at the same time.

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