LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — If you are doing most of your shopping online and are concerned about your ability to identify counterfeit products on the internet, a new study from Michigan State University has some interesting info to share.
Seven out of 10 people who shop online have been deceived into buying counterfeit products on the internet, according to researchers from MSU.
“Counterfeiting goes beyond a fake designer handbag,” said MSU Professor of Advertising Saleem Alhabash. “Counterfeiters outsmart retailers, they figure out vulnerabilities in the supply chain and interrupt it. This causes retailers to lose money and, depending on the product can pose a threat to the safety and well-being of consumers.”
Even relatively harmless counterfeit items, like clothes and shoes, could potentially contain harmful chemicals like lead, according to the study. If you’re dealing with more high-impact items like airbags and medication, the counterfeit versions most likely do not meet government-determined safety standards.
The new research from MSU is the first U.S.-based global survey to provide the anti-counterfeiting and brand protection community–including brand owners, e-commerce platforms and law enforcement–with tools to better communicate these counterfeiting dangers and risks to consumers.
The study also came up with plenty of interesting tidbits–for example, those who bought counterfeit goods online were more likely to be male; younger; religious; frequent online shoppers; and from lower-income households.
Although people reported they were motivated to buy counterfeit products because they could get a bargain price, the study found people were most strongly motivated by the level of enjoyment they derived from the shopping.
“Consumers are not just motivated by saving money, they are seeking pleasurable and enriched shopping experiences,” said MSU Professor of Retailing Patricia Huddleston. “Taking the fun out of counterfeit shopping and buying can be an effective strategy to reduce the prevalence of this behavior.”
The study reported that following the COVID-19 pandemic and the exponential growth in e-commerce, “online retail and social media platforms have become a hotbed for counterfeit products, especially as such platforms permit promotion of products by third-party sellers.”