As counterfeiters move down market, savvy consumers always take the high road

August 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

For many, the past years have been a harsh tutorial in cost-cutting and lean living. Gone are the days of mad money sprees and impulse shopping. But, from this wasteland and its burning piles of display units, a smarter, more discerning consumer has emerged, one who measures their purchases with a scale calibrated so finely, the Swiss are harrumphing about it. And this new, battle-hardened shopper could not come at a better time, because it looks as though the counterfeiters have decided that this is the right time to slim down to their fighting weight as well.

The New York Times ran a recent piece that explored the phenomenon of counterfeiters ‘trending downward’ into markets where the original prices of authentic goods are not so different from what these fake peddlers are charging for their versions. This is not the realm of Gucci and Vuitton where the difference between the price of an authentic item and its sham counterpart can be thousands of dollars. We’re talking about lesser-known, stylish brands – the article cites Ed Hardy and Samantha Thavasa. If an actual Hardy tee goes for $100 and a sham artist prices their version at $80, it is rather difficult for the savvy, culturally conscious consumer to determine what is and what is not real.

Of course, the hard and fast rule is to avoid rushed purchases on street corners or inside heavily tinted, converted school busses. But for the nimble Internet shopper, the counterfeiters’ move into this new market space has made it harder to buy responsibly. Pricing is one of the fastest ways to determine whether an item is legit. Too good to be true? It is. Just throw a smoke pellet, walk away, alert law enforcement, and find a better place to shop.

There are several reasons for the counterfeiters’ move. Not least of which is recession-fueled consumer demand for deals. One of the many failings of a lackluster economy is that while it may impose restraint on spending, it certainly does nothing to curb desire. Another reason cited by the Times is that with this reduced spending, many of the factories in China, where nearly 80% of fake goods that enter the U.S. are produced, have been sitting idle. This new arena is an easy way for them to strap on their production skates and take another lap.

As cagey buyers, the new generation of consumers must do their homework. If you choose to shop online, do a little background research on the site’s reputation. Read the comments and check to see if they are licensed to carry a certain brand’s wares. It is also an issue of impulse control and can requires monk-like restraint at times. This is certainly the case after the shopping desires that had been caged by the economy are set free to run through storybook fields of knee-high grass and designer deals and a dubious site flashes a tempting offer.

So take a second look. There is more at stake than a moment’s passing purchase. And more importantly, tell your friends and family about this new trend in sham-wear. A little patience and preparation go a long way toward stopping the fake epidemic.

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