What does the IFOP study for UNIFAB reveal about online counterfeiting?

UNIFAB (Union des Fabricants) is a French non-profit association whose purpose is the defense and promotion of intellectual property rights. It brings together many companies and associations from all other the world, representing in kind of industries. The experience, the expertise and the network of Unifab make it a major player in the combat against counterfeiting on the world stage. The UNIFAB commissioned Ifop (French Institute of Public Opinion) a sociological study on counterfeiting entitled “The French and the dangers of counterfeiting” (IPSOS study for UNIFAB, “The French and the dangers of counterfeiting”, No. 115226, 2019, hereinafter “IPSOS Study for UNIFAB 2019”). The results obtained include:

  • the sectors concerned
  • experiences with counterfeiting
  • buying channels
  • perception of counterfeiting
  • risk perception for the buyer

The study was based, on the one hand, on two representative samples of the French population: on the one hand, a sample of people aged 15 and over (the general public sample) and, on the other hand, a sample of people aged 15 to 18 years. The interviews were conducted through an online questionnaire from 11 to 17 April 2018 (IPSOS Study for UNIFAB 2019, p. 4).

The results related to the distribution channels of counterfeit goods show that a large majority of respondents (78%) perceive the Internet as one of the “places (or occasions) of sale where we find the more counterfeits”, which includes online advertising platforms (including eBay, Amazon, and Leboncoin) and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) (IPSOS Study for UNIFAB 2019, p. 20).

In addition, the study reveals a notable but not surprising difference in consumption patterns from one generation to the other. Indeed, it is often on the Internet that teenagers get counterfeit products. To the question “In what places or by which channels did you already buy (or did you get yourself a counterfeit?)”, 28% designated online market platforms (16% of the general public) and 12% indicated social networks (4% of the general public). One of the possible interpretations of these results is that producers of goods for a young audience are the most exposed to online counterfeiting.

The study also tells us that the websites on which respondents have already bought counterfeits are most often Aliexpress, Amazon, eBay (which is much less popular with the youngest generation), Leboncoin, CDiscount, Facebook and Instagram. Equally relevant, UNIFAB wanted to know which keywords the counterfeit buyers had used during their purchase process. The lexical field of counterfeiting is omnipresent:

IPSOS study for UNIFAB 2019, lexical field of counterfeiting, p. 24

The search for words and phrases such as “cheap”, “imitation”, “replica”, “counterfeit” and “copy” confirms the existence of a demand for counterfeit goods.

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