LONDON — A love of luxury and a generation that values personality and individuality more than ever is fueling the purchase of counterfeit products despite brands’ and governments’ efforts to clamp down on fakes.
The International Trademark Association released research titled “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products,” which aims to shed light on the relationship between Gen Z and the brands that those born between the mid-Nineties and the mid-Aughts favor.
It also looks at Gen Z’s attitudes toward counterfeit products, and the different considerations that influence their spend on counterfeits.
Some 79 percent of Gen Z respondents said they purchased counterfeit products in the past year, with three in five feeling “they cannot afford the lifestyle they want.” Those replies came despite 85 percent admitting they’d heard of intellectual property rights and 93 percent saying they had a lot of respect for people’s ideas and creations.
Some 52 percent of the respondents said they expect to purchase fewer counterfeit products in the future.
The two most commonly purchased counterfeit products are apparel and shoes and accessories, while beauty and cosmetics ranked at number four, after sporting goods.
Functional benefits like price and accessibility are among the other reasons that Gen Z buys fake products. Big counterfeit purchasers experience functional benefits, and heightened social and emotional benefits, too, the research said.
Some 14 percent said that “using a big brand’s product makes them look good even if it’s a fake product,” and “buying fake products helps them express themselves through brands they usually can’t afford.” Some 10 percent said “fake products allow them to buy luxury brands they couldn’t otherwise afford.“
The research was conducted by Insight Strategy Group and surveyed more than 4,500 Gen Z respondents between the ages of 18 and 23 in 10 countries: Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and the U.S.
The research said Gen Z’s relationship with counterfeit products is a case of “situational morality.” Some 48 percent of respondents said they were morally opposed to purchasing counterfeit products, while 39 percent said they believed whether something is right or wrong depended on the situation, and only 13 percent though it was totally acceptable.
On paper, Gen Z has a strong respect for the value of people’s ideas and creations and this ideal extends into the brand space. Some 74 percent think “it’s important to buy genuine products,” and 79 percent said “there’s hard work that went into making the genuine product.”
In reality, Gen Z lives in a world where the sale of counterfeit products is ubiquitous, “thus their ideals are tested by the reality of their surroundings.” Some 80 percent believe that “fake products are sold everywhere,” and the top three places to buy them would be street vendors, online market places and local marketplaces.
There is “an internal conflict, created by Gen Z’s values and their practical considerations.”