What do you choose He asked the French about their connection to forgery. When they buy fakes, is it intentional or not? Our enlightening answers.
Food, perfume, cell phones, sunglasses, auto parts, keys…everything gets copied, and no sector escapes counterfeiting! This is the observation of manufacturers and public authorities who have been fighting the counterfeit industry for several years now. Last year, customs officers seized 9.1 million counterfeit products, an increase of 62% compared to 2020. Interceptions were carried out at postal sorting centers at airports, but also at the roadside or in markets.
The vast majority of these imitations still come from some Asian countries, primarily China. However, there are details. India, for example, is one of the largest producers of counterfeit medicines. Even if these countries mobilize more to fight this illegal activity – which, on a European scale, causes companies affected by this scourge to lose 60 billion euros – counterfeiters still have a bright future.
And you as an individual, how do you put yourself in the face of this phenomenon? To find out the answer, Que Choisir interviewed a representative sample of the French. Did they buy copies on purpose? Or were they misled into thinking they were ordering an authentic item online? As half the time, we get to the fake market via websites, whether obscure or not, or marketplaces (which aggregate sellers hosted on big name e-commerce platforms). However, the sites of exchange or purchase between individuals are not excluded: 26% of our compatriots were exposed to counterfeiting. Do they give in to temptation? According to our survey, 6% admitted that they made a voluntary move, and the same percentage of respondents claimed that they did not do it on purpose, and that they were deceived by the seller. Those who got the imitation tended to be men between the ages of 18 and 39. On average, our survey respondents claim to have acquired, intentionally or unknowingly, 3 counterfeit products in the past 24 months.
Close-up on clothes
Cosmetics ranked first in the list of counterfeiting seizures made by the Customs Service (1.7 million), slightly ahead of toys and games (1.6 million). However, our study focuses only on apparel, particularly sports or streetwear brands, because according to our results, this is the sector most affected with 38% of transactions. Followed by footwear (26%), sporting goods (22%), leather goods (9%), and jewelry (6%). Price-wise, imitations cost, on average, approximately 70% to 80% less than original items. Even more surprisingly, more than one in three buyers declare that fake clothes are identical to the original. However, 60% of consumers who didn’t think they’d bought a copy discovered it by checking out finishes or seams that left much to be desired.
Holes in the cracks
Customs officers know that a large number of counterfeit goods slip through the cracks of their web. The results of our survey confirm this: only 12% of voluntary buyers of counterfeit products were confiscated. And beware of some websites that claim to sell branded items at very low prices. These platforms are really just empty shells. After being tempted, you place an order and take out your credit card. You will be charged but never delivered. This corrupt adventure happened to 19% of survey respondents.
By the way, when the French voluntarily buy fakes, do they have a bad conscience? No, of course, because 76% think they made a good deal, and 60% think it does no real harm to the companies involved. For nearly one in two, this is an act of rebellion that gives them the opportunity to play a nasty trick on them.
Remember, however, that counterfeiting exposes the buyer to article confiscation and criminal penalties (see box below). It is also likely to endanger the safety or health of the consumer. Reproduction of toys, medicines, cigarettes, electrical appliances … a lot of products that have real risks, because they are far from complying with the standards. The profits from this illegal market will also make it possible to finance various criminal activities; Rather, the intelligence services revealed that they constitute one of the sources of income for some terrorist groups.
From an economic point of view, the counterfeit industry punishes copied brands and creates strong distortions in competition. And the evil is still deep … At the beginning of 2022, the Union of Manufacturers for the International Protection of Intellectual Property (Unifab) conducted a study on a sample of 25 member companies, from all sectors of activity. She notes that “these companies were able to remove more than 27 million illegal ads that were posted on the Internet in 11 months.” These figures clearly show that the proportion of fake articles on the Internet, at a price often close to the price of real products and with the original image, has intensified in accordance with the development of consumer habits focused on e-commerce. “A trend that is not about to stop.
It is a crime!
Anyone offering counterfeit goods for sale is liable to 4 years imprisonment and a fine of €400,000 (7 years and €750,000 if the crime was committed in an organized gang). The owner of the facts also submits himself to the seizure of the items, a customs fine, and the payment of compensation for the copied mark. On the buyer side, the penalties are identical. But it remains a theory. When the act is isolated and relates to very small quantities, they are confined, for the most part, to the confiscation of the proceeds.
It was conducted from 10 to 13 May with a representative sample of the French population aged 18 years and over. The 1001 respondents were asked to indicate whether they had intentionally purchased a counterfeit product in the past 24 months.
In our article, we address the general conclusions of our investigation. However, since the answers given mainly pertain to clothing, we only break down the results for this segment alone.