Influencers are an “important channel” for counterfeiters, according to UKIPO

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“Buying is very often more than just a transaction between buyer and supplier”, with consumption in many cases being a social experience and the influence of others playing a role in what we buy. The same goes for the consumption and sale of counterfeit products, according to a recent report UK Intellectual Property Office, which surveyed 1,000 female consumers (“as social media supports counterfeit products is dominated by influencers and female audiences,” the research population was limited to female consumers) , to assess the state of the counterfeit market and determine the extent to which social media influencers facilitate the purchase of these products.

The main finding of the UK Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) in its investigation was that 17 percent of participants (70 percent of whom were between 16 and 33 years old) said they knowingly bought counterfeits in previous years. year – and 13.3% revealed that their buying behavior regarding counterfeit products was, in fact, influenced by social media endorsements. In other words, 13.3% of those polled said they “bought fakes either deliberately or by mistake as a result of approval from influencers on social media,” which UKIPO says “Clearly demonstrates that influencers are an important channel for marketing counterfeit vendors on the other side of the world.”

Consistent with previously reported figures, UKIPO found that fashion and related accessories are the main drivers of counterfeit consumption, with this product category being “particularly attractive” to younger consumers (i.e. 16-33 years), with 1 in 5 (20%) of survey participants admitting to purchasing counterfeit clothing or accessories in the past year, compared to 4% of older consumers. (UKIPO notes that it defined counterfeits for participants as “items that look like an authentic product with or without the official brand / logo, but are not made by the brand and may be of inferior quality, for example, a handbag of the same design at a “Chanel” with or without the Chanel logo. “)

In addition to clothing and fashion accessories, which was the most popular product category for counterfeit consumption according to UKIPO, fake jewelry and watches, as well as beauty products were also reported to be frequently purchased.

Another interesting point to take away about consumers’ state of mind regarding counterfeit products from UKIPO’s findings is that 18% of respondents “think counterfeits don’t harm businesses and jobs. “, 22%” believe that counterfeits do not pose a threat to health and safety “, and finally, 33% (or a third of the survey participants) revealed that the counterfeit trade is in fact” the fault of the manufacturers for having overvalued the products of big mark ”.

The rise of “dupes” as Eye Luxury platforms

The timing of the UKIPO survey seems appropriate given the overall increase in ‘fools’ both in terms of Google searches and on social media sites, including Instagram and TikTok, and influencers who have builds a significant number of subscribers thanks, in many cases, to their posts on this topic. As TFL reported last summer, while recent data from Google Trends shows searches for the word ‘replica’, for example, are steadily declining overall, searches for ‘dupes’ have increased. these last years.

“Browsing YouTube reveals countless videos presented by young content creators, mostly women, promoting counterfeit clothing, accessories and beauty products to their subscribers,” the UK organization said. IP, designating a British influencer with 4.4 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, who “posted a video promoting counterfeit products in May 2021 titled ‘I bought fake designer bags. The video – which features counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Jacquemus, Dior and Balenciaga bags – has since been viewed 221,326 times.

At the same time, brands and marketplaces come together to send public messages to influencers (and the general public) in connection with their role in supporting counterfeit products. Amazon, for example, filed a lawsuit focusing on counterfeiting in November 2020, accusing influencers Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci of “engaging in a sophisticated fake advertising campaign” in which they “conspired” with sellers in the Amazon Marketplace to escape Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting protections by promoting counterfeit luxury goods – from Gucci belts to Dior handbags – on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and their own websites. This case was settled in September, the terms of the largely confidential agreement putting in place a ban on Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci from “marketing, advertising, linking, promoting or selling products on Amazon,” and in terms of the pecuniary damages being paid by the defendants, Amazon has revealed that it will donate the sum to various nonprofits, including an anti-counterfeiting initiative of the International Trademark Association.

Not to be outdone, Facebook, Inc. (now Meta) partnered with Gucci in April 2021 to bring a single accused – a woman named Natalia Kokhtenko – for operating “an international online business, trafficking. of illegal counterfeit products, “which saw her use the” Facebook and Instagram [platforms] promote the sale of [luxury brand] counterfeit products ”, such as Gucci handbags, shoes, clothing and accessories, and violate trademark law and“ Facebook and Instagram terms and policies ”in the process. This case is still pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Given the surprisingly limited reach of the two cases (there are well over three influencers and / or market sellers offering obvious fakes on Instagram and Amazon), the cases are almost certainly part of a larger trust exercise aimed at attracting consumers and brands to these platforms, and allowing them to be seen as a legitimate fashion source. In a similar vein to Amazon, which has not been silent about its ambitions in the fashion and luxury space, Reuters reported last year that “groups like Facebook, Inc. are keen to make a greater push into the luxury market and ‘social commerce’, but to do so, they must show that their platforms are not a vector of counterfeiting and are safe for brands, some of whom are reluctant to sell their products through third-party actors. Targeting counterfeit peddling influencers is part of that effort.


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