When weighing online offers, consumers feel functionality is more important than potential risks, even as they consider the danger of counterfeits

July 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

It’s no surprise in-the-know shoppers are motivated by quality, functionality, and competitive pricing. We want the best at the right price. And believe it or not, this type of motivation is good for both sides of a sale. At Bazaar, we hope all parties will be happy and, if authentic goods are in the mix, we think they can be. When you’re dealing with the real McCoy – genuine luxury or bona fide goods – everyone is motivated by the same thing: distinction. It is about excellence. If one side is eager to purchase it and the other produces it, then everyone ought to go home from the carnival with a stuffed bear, right? Well, ideally, yes, but it’s clear this isn’t always the case. So what’s the deal?

Fakes are the deal. Cheap, potentially dangerous, but functional fakes. A new report from OpSec Security suggests as counterfeiters put out “increasingly, better quality fakes” (the so-called “AAA-quality” fakes) with lower prices, a significant number of the survey respondents came to believe the perceived functionality of the sham goods outweighed any safety risk and they were willing to forego safety entirely for price. Fakes alter the landscape of the marketplace for the worse. As the findings of this study indicate, with counterfeit goods in the mix, nothing is safe. Not even common sense.

Some statistics from the study:

• 80% of respondents professed to never shopping for fakes
• 66% of respondents overcame their initial aversion and
indicated a willingness to purchase convincing counterfeits,
although approximately the same percentage recognized
the online offers as fakes
• 81% of respondents who were aware of the dangers of
counterfeits considered product functionality as more
important than potential risks when weighing online offers
• As expected, almost all respondents (90%) stated price as a
driving force for counterfeit purchases

So where’s the disconnect? When an item looks identical to an authentic piece, it’s easy to forget the purveyors of sham goods aren’t concerned with safety. They don’t care about brand integrity. They leave that to the legitimate businesses they rip off. They’re only able to produce cheap, dangerous goods because other groups are devoted to cultivating authentic products. The fake trade is the worst form of parasitism, because it injures every party involved: it undercuts the earnest creative efforts of those that it exploits, and it stands to injure those who buy unsafe impostor items, whether aware or unaware of the fakery.

The problem brings to mind a line from Thoreau’s Walden, to paraphrase: ‘that person is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.’ Though we understand that HDT uses this elegant metaphor to suggest a simpler life, where the fake trade is concerned we couldn’t disagree more strongly with the literal terms of the statement. Sham goods may be cheap, but only because they’re hollow and harmful, and those qualities are not two that we associate with a full life. And though it’s an interesting moment when the author of one of the finer articulations of austerity and self-reliance has his words applied to material goods, at its core, Henry David’s famous sojourn shares its raison d’etre with FakesAreNeverInFashion.com: it is a celebration of authenticity. So, just as Thoreau calls for a self-reliant and simple existence, we encourage our readers to seek authenticity in their own lives.

We know for certain it doesn’t begin with fakes.

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