Now in its third edition, the survey conducted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) provides an update on the behaviours of young Europeans towards intellectual property infringement in a post-pandemic context. The 2022 quantitative analysis was conducted amongst a total of 22,021 youths aged 15-24 in the 27 EU Member States, between 7-28 February 2022, and shows how the majority of these are attracted by the purchase of counterfeit products online. More than half (52%) of those polled in fact confirmed to having purchased at least one counterfeit product online in the last year, either intentionally or by accident. Among these, 37% intentionally bought one or more fake products, representing a significant increase compared to previous surveys (up from 14% in 2019). The figure varies significantly from one country to the next: the highest percent is registered in Greece (62%) and the lowest in the Czech Republic (24%). In Italy, 27% of youths have intentionally purchased a fake product. Fake products intentionally purchased by youths are more often than not clothing and accessories (17%), followed by footwear (14%), electronic devices (13%) and products for personal hygiene, cosmetics, personal care products, and perfumes (12%).
Key factors at the heart of fake product purchases
Price and availability remain the main factors motivating the purchase of counterfeit products, but also social influence and peer behaviour are increasingly important, as is the behaviour of family members, friends, or acquaintances, factors that are gaining ground in a significant way.
However, youths also purchase fake goods for reasons connected to misinformation: the unintentional purchase of counterfeit goods is estimated at 37% and those polled declared they have difficulty in distinguishing between authentic products and counterfeit ones. 48% did not purchase those products or was uncertain about having purchased them.
Among the factors there is also disinterest regarding the legitimacy of the product (or the source of the content), an inability to distinguish between original and counterfeit products, and the ease with which it is possible to find and order fake products online. One out of every 10 youths polled confirmed having followed the advice of influencers or celebrities.
What makes youths think twice about purchasing counterfeit goods?
The personal risk of cyberfraud or cyberthreats are indicated as the most important factors in motivating European youths to no longer purchase counterfeit products. Additionally, those polled are increasingly citing having a better understanding of the negative impacts on the environment or on society as their reason for stopping.
Amazon is likewise against counterfeiting
Even one of the platforms that has faced the most criticism from lawmakers over counterfeit products like Amazon recently showed the desire to undertake different actions meant to contrast this practice and protect consumers and brands.
In fact, in June 2022, Amazon published its second Brand Protection Report, which highlights the constant commitment of the worldwide leading e-commerce platform to offer authentic products in its store and protect consumers.
In 2021, Amazon invested more than 900 million dollars and employed more than 12 thousand people – including machine learning scientists, software developers, expert investigators, and other dedicated professionals – to protect customers, brands, selling partners, and the Amazon store from counterfeit, fraud, and other forms of abuse.
Taking a look at the numbers, in 2022, Amazon stopped over 2.5 million attempts to create new suspect selling accounts, before they could even publish a single product for sale. This number is down from over 6 million attempts the prior year, since its solid vetting of sellers and products, together with its efforts to take action against perpetrators, are deterring said perpetrators from even attempting to sell on Amazon.
Plus, the Brand Registry has grown to include over 700,000 active brands, an increase of 40% from the prior year. At the same time, the average number of valid notices of infringement submitted by a brand in Brand Registry to Amazon decreased by 25% from the prior year, since the continued growth in the adoption and efficacy of automated brand protection tools continue to reduce the number of notices submitted by owners of rights.