Influencers Are “Important Channel” for Counterfeiters, Per UKIPO


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

The main finding from the UK Intellectual Property Office (“UKIPO”) in relation to its survey was that 17% of respondents (70% of whom were aged between 16 and 33) reported knowingly purchased counterfeit products in the previous year – and 13.3% revealed that their buying behavior related to counterfeit products was, in fact, influenced by social media sponsorship. In other words, 13.3% of respondents reported that they “bought counterfeit products deliberately or by mistake following the approval of social media influencers”, which according to UKIPO “clearly demonstrates that influencers are an important channel. market for counterfeit suppliers on the other side of the world. ”

In line with previously reported data, UKIPO found that fashion and related accessories are the main drivers of counterfeiting consumption, with this category of goods “particularly attractive” to younger consumers (i.e. those in the age group). 16-33), with 1 in 5 (20 percent) of survey respondents admitting to having purchased counterfeit clothing or accessories in the previous year compared to 4 percent of older consumers. (UKIPO notes that it defined counterfeits for attendees as “items that look identical to a genuine product with or without the official brand / logo, but are not made by the brand and may be of inferior quality, for example, a bag of identical design to a “Chanel” with or without the Chanel logo. “)

In addition to clothing and fashion accessories, which used to be the most popular product category when it comes to counterfeit consumption, according to UKIPO, fake jewelry and watches and beauty products were also noted as being frequently purchased.

Another interesting aspect about the consumer mentality when it comes to counterfeit goods from the UKIPO results is that 18% of respondents “believe that counterfeits do not harm businesses and jobs”, 22% “believe that counterfeits do not are a threat to health and safety “, and finally, a larger 33% (or a third of survey respondents) revealed that the trade in counterfeit products is actually” the fault of manufacturers for high-end branded products. price”.

The rise of “Dupes” as Platforms Eye Luxury

The timing of the UKIPO survey seems appropriate given the general increase in “dupes” both in terms of searches on Google and on social media sites, including Instagram and TikTok, and influencers who have built a sizable following thanks to many. cases, to their posts on this topic. As reported by TFL last summer, while recent data from Google Trends indicates that searches for the word “replica”, for example, are steadily declining overall, searches for “dupes” have increased in recent years.

“A YouTube browsing reveals countless videos submitted by young content creators, mainly women promoting fake clothing, accessories and beauty products to followers,” said the UK IP agency, pointing to a UK influencer with 4.4 million subscribers. on its YouTube channel, which “posted a video promoting counterfeit products in May 2021 titled” I bought fake designer bags on desire. “The video – featuring counterfeit bags from Louis Vuitton, Jacquemus, Dior and Balenciaga – has since been viewed 221,326 times.

At the same time, brands and marketplaces are coming together to send public messages to influencers (and the general public) in relation to their role in approving counterfeit goods. Amazon, for example, filed a lawsuit focused on counterfeiting in November 2020, accusing influencers Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci of “engaging in a sophisticated deceptive advertising campaign” in connection with which they “conspired” with marketers. by Amazon to circumvent Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting protections by promoting counterfeit luxury goods – from Gucci belts to Dior bags – on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and on their websites. That case ended in September, with the terms of the largely confidential agreement enacting a ban against Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci on “marketing, advertising, linking to, promoting or selling products on Amazon” and in terms of of monetary damages paid by the defendants, Amazon revealed that it will donate the sum to several non-profit organizations, including an anti-counterfeiting initiative from the International Trademark Association.

Not to be outdone, Facebook, Inc. (now Meta) partnered with Gucci in April 2021 to sue a single defendant – a woman named Natalia Kokhtenko – for running “an international online business, trafficking in illegal counterfeit goods “, which I saw her using” Facebook and Instagram [platforms] promote the sale of [luxury brand] counterfeit goods “, such as Gucci bags, shoes, clothing and accessories, and violating trademark law and” Facebook and Instagram terms and policies “in the process. That case is still pending in the United States District Court for Northern California District.

Given the surprisingly limited scope of both cases (there are far more than three marketplace influencers and / or sellers offering blatant counterfeits on Instagram and Amazon), the cases are almost certainly part of a broader trust-building exercise aimed at attracting consumers and brands to these platforms and allowing them to be seen as a legitimate fashion source. In much the same way as Amazon, which has not kept quiet about its ambitions in the fashion and luxury sector, Reuters reported last year that “groups like Facebook, Inc. are eager to give a greater push to the luxury market and to “social commerce”., ‘, but to do so they have to prove that their platforms are not a counterfeiting channel and are safe for brands, some of which are reluctant to sell their products through third party players. ” Targeting influencers selling counterfeit products is part of this effort.

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