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Fakes: What are they and why does Gen Z support them?
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Fakes: What are they and why does Gen Z support them?

Fakes: What are they and why does Gen Z support them?
June 14, 2023

Counterfeits are at an all-time high among Gen Z due to the promotion of fakes on social media platforms. Want to know why? Keep reading this article!

Do you want to know if your brand is at risk online?
Talk to an expert

In a world where social media continues to make a huge impact on our lives, we see an increasing drive to pay more attention to status and lifestyle and, hence, influence our behavior.

Not too long ago, being able to purchase a Chanel bag or a Rolex was considered a clear sign of high status. However, with the rise of counterfeit products, we now have to double or triple check to see if that product is the real deal, or if it is a fake replica.

Why purchasing counterfeits is considered “cool” now

Counterfeits, or fakes, are now almost impossible to differentiate to the untrained eye, which has contributed to the fact that the younger generations don’t really care. “Why spend half your paycheck on quality if you can obtain the same status at a tenth of the price?” a counterfeit supporter may ask. This poses a serious threat to brands and their consumers, as a rise in acceptance of fakes has put a strain on brand value and product quality.

With higher costs of living, as well as a generally lower concern for company values, a high percentage of Gen Z is shifting its consumer behavior toward the normalization of purchasing fakes. Not only are they not afraid to show their fakes, but some even proudly promote them on social media. 

What are fakes?

Fakes, or counterfeits, are fake branded products which imitate the design, look, and feel of an authentic item, utilizing the official brand’s intellectual property without the brand owner’s consent. Hence, causing an illegality.

Change in Consumer Behavior among Gen Z

Younger generations are notorious for changing the world and bringing a fresh and new perspective. Now, with the use of social media, Gen Z is able to use these platforms for spreading awareness. This is great for certain scenarios that promote human rights and the safeguarding of the human species as a whole, such as There is no Planet B and Black Lives Matter movements. However, there is a concerningly increasing percentage of Gen Z’s population that has been proven to not only be activists for equality, but also for “eating the rich”, a slogan associated with anti-capitalism and far-left politics.

Gen Z: activists or posers?

The younger generation is taking a stand and paving their way among the big fish. They are making their voices heard for themselves and those who do not have the power or freedom to do so, which is admirable. Nevertheless, within this ample group, there is an increasing share of Gen Zers that claim to fight against climate change, yet brag about buying fake Gucci shoes that are exempt from environmental regulations and produced with child labor.

Higher cost of living

Now, although purchasing counterfeits is harmful for the planet, consumers, workers, and brands, not all who purchase them do so with malicious intent. The stagnant salaries and the rising cost of living plays a fundamental role in the increasing tolerance toward counterfeits.

As seen in the graph below, there has been an increase of 319.78% of the inflation rate from 2009 compared to 2022.

This dramatic rise in inflation has led to a sky-scraping cost of living, due to a fall in real wages. As a result, consumers have a lower disposable income and, hence, purchasing power.

All this to say, the younger generations have to keep up with older ones, who were able to live off minimum wage salaries, whereas now, in countries such as the US, Taiwan, Mexico, cannot afford a basic standard of living with a full-time minimum wage salary.

“Baddie on a budget”

This trend, seemingly harmless, accounts for 158,7M views in TikTok alone. These videos consist of users showing off counterfeits, as well as telling others where to buy these fakes. Therefore, we should consider TikTok (and other social media platforms) as a storefront to purchase fakes to look out for.

Not only does this promote counterfeiters, but it incentivizes users to purchase fakes, rather than original products. Some users justify their actions following the false narrative of “eating the rich”, however, purchasing counterfeits doesn’t only harm brands, but also consumers and workers. The lower price of the fake might benefit the consumer’s wallet, but it may cause serious harm to their health and to the planet.

Product quality and company values

We tend to bash consumers for the rise of counterfeit demands, however, who is really at fault? Yes, if there is no demand, there would be no supply. However, consumer preferences are very vulnerable to deceiving marketing tactics to obtain customers.

If counterfeiters promoted how their products endorse child and forced labor, or how they use harmful materials and processes that pollute our environment, consumers would be far less likely to purchase them. However, this will never be the case as we know that marketing strategies are used to attract customers, not repel them.

This is why brands should focus on promoting their company values and product quality. In other words, bring the attention back to them: prove why they are worth the price. Whether it is through more strategically targeted Green Marketing campaigns, or stepping up their Corporate Social Responsibility, brands must take a stand and educate their consumers, so they are aware of the added value of their product.

Consequences of supporting counterfeit products

Although we are aware of the negative effects of supporting fakes, do we really know the extent to which purchasing fakes can harm our society?

Counterfeiters and promoters

They take the biggest piece of the pie here, as they are whole handedly the root of the problem.

  • Counterfeiters reap brand’s benefits by gaining profit off of the original brand’s work to build a name and create a high value for their products.
  • Promoters, either knowingly or unknowingly, are supporting a criminal organization that tears down the brand’s worth and reputation, decreasing the original product’s value.

Consumers

Either on purpose or by accident, consumers are supporting this illegal activity, to the point where 79% of Gen Zers have purchased counterfeit products in the past year.

Brands

Brands are solemnly the main victims of these counterfeit products, as they see their sales decrease and customers stolen from them. As a result, they lose significant revenue and budget to invest in their product and company as a whole, leaving them with a high-value product that is progressively losing its worth.

How to stop the rise of counterfeits

Counterfeits are seen as “the easy way” to obtain status, regardless of the harmful consequences they have for consumers, workers, brands, and even the environment. Therefore, in order to put a halt to this fraudulent industry, we must put the focus on educating the public on how counterfeit products are produced and what purchasing them entails.

Nevertheless, whilst education is essential, we must also use legal tools to punish those producing, selling, distributing and promoting counterfeits. How can this be done you may ask? Through Brand Protection and Ecommerce Monitoring.

What if we told you that with just a couple of clicks you are able to see who is selling your product, where it is being sold, and who is buying it? Not only this, but you are also able to see how many infringements your brand is suffering, as well as having the opportunity to review the different claims that are automatically brought up by AI and human monitoring.

That’s right! With Smart Protection you are able to do all of this and more. Smart Protection offers a platform that provides you with a 360º view of what is happening online regarding your brand. Furthermore, we offer you the legal tools to take down counterfeits that infringe your intellectual property rights.

If you want to protect your brand and sales online and see how we can help, don’t hesitate to Request a Demo!

Do you want to know if your brand is at risk online?
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