A survey by MarkMonitor reveals the impact that online counterfeiting is having on the sales of genuine brand.

More than a third (39%) actually stated that a significant 11-50% of counterfeits substitute for sales of their branded goods. When asked to what extent they thought that online counterfeits substitute for sales of their genuine products online, only 14% of the participants said there was no impact.

The Global Consumer Shopping Habits Survey revealed that almost one quarter of consumers have bought a product online that turned out to be counterfeit, including fashion or footwear, electronics, and digital content. In addition, the prevalence of buying counterfeit items online looks set to increase in the coming years as younger consumers are more likely to have bought counterfeit goods or said they would be willing to do so in the future. In the 18- to 34-year-old range, 39% had bought counterfeit items and 42% indicated they would purchase counterfeit goods in the future.

When it comes to general shopping behavior, we found that consumers do just over one-third (34%) of all their shopping online. Despite the number of shoppers who admitted to being caught out by online counterfeiters, the research actually showed that 70% of consumers would not buy counterfeit goods. Nearly half (48%) said they thought buying fake products was morally wrong.

The study found that more than half of consumers (56%) have received counterfeit emails – that is, emails purportedly from a known brand that turn out to be from another company entirely. In fact, consumers are far more likely to have received an email that turned out to be counterfeit than they are to have knowingly been on a website selling counterfeit goods. One of the reasons for this could be that, given the levels of sophistication that counterfeiters use when developing websites, it is becoming more and more difficult for consumers to recognize a site as fake.

According to the study, while consumers often do not intend to purchase counterfeit goods, the level of sophistication used by counterfeiters in setting up websites to sell fake goods is really high. This means that it is increasingly difficult for consumers to tell the difference between legitimate retailers’ websites and those selling fakes.

For brand owners, the study said "it is key to consider a comprehensive online brand protection strategy to detect and take down any illegitimate activities, including any trademark and copyright abuse. A successful brand protection strategy will preserve marketing investments, customer trust, and revenues by assisting in the elimination of confusing and potentially fraudulent use brands online."