While many people in Europe are generally aware of the risks of counterfeiting, a large number of respondents think buying counterfeit products is okay in certain circumstances. That is a finding of a new study on intellectual property perceptions by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). According to the study, almost a third of the European public thinks it is OK to buy counterfeits in certain situations – in the group aged 15 to 24, around half of respondents even say this, provided the price of the genuine product is too high.
According to the survey, price in particular has a major impact on purchasing behavior. Other reasons rejected as justification by around 80% of respondents in each case included the argument that original products are not (yet) available; or because everyone would buy counterfeit products; or because it concerns counterfeit luxury goods. However, if the price of an original was considered too high, around one in three respondents would feel justified in buying a counterfeit instead. Among younger people between 15 and 24, not only does half of those surveyed agree with this, but also around 40% in this age group think buying counterfeit luxury items is okay.
Still, the number of people who said they had actually bought counterfeit products in the last 12 months remains significantly lower, the analysis says. Around 13% of respondents said they had done so consciously, and around 15% said they may have been deceived and had bought counterfeits unknowingly. Again, the figures are significantly higher for the young age group, with twice as many 15‑to‑24 year olds as the EU average saying they had deliberately bought counterfeits in the last year. However, this is down from a figure of 37% suggested last year in the EUIPO’s Youth Barometer on Intellectual Property 2022.
//„The latest edition of the IP Perception study provides new relevant insights into the perception of infringement of intellectual property rights and underlines once more the need to support consumers protection.“
Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of the EUIPO
According to the study, the number of people who bought counterfeits last year varies significantly between individual countries. Bulgaria, for example, is well above the EU average: Here, 24% of respondents said they had deliberately bought counterfeits. In Spain (20%), Ireland (19%), Luxembourg (19%) and Romania (18%), this figure is also at least 5% above the average of the bloc. In Finland and Croatia, on the other hand, the figure remains below 10%.
According to the study, a lower price for original products is the most frequently cited reason among respondents for not buying counterfeits. Around 43% agreed with this. A wider range of products and better quality were also good reasons for 25% of respondents to buy originals.
At the same time, most of the people surveyed were aware of the risks of counterfeiting. According to the study, around 80% of respondents think that criminal organizations are behind counterfeiting and that counterfeiting has a negative impact on the economy. Two‑thirds of respondents see dangers to health, safety, and the environment in connection with counterfeit products. In some cases, these were decisive reasons for respondents not to buy counterfeits. This may indicate that targeted brand protection communications can have decisive benefits for companies, for example in reducing the demand for counterfeit products.
For the current edition of the EUIPO’s Intellectual Property Perceptions Study, more than 25,000 people over the age of 15 were surveyed in the 27 EU member states, between 30 January and 15 February 2023.