A surprisingly large share of the Generation Z is buying counterfeit goods, an international study by INTA now shows. However, brand owners have good chances of changing the so-called Gen Zers’ minds on fakes.

Almost 80% of 18- to 23-year-olds admit to having bought counterfeits within the previous year. This is the alarming finding of a new study by the International Trademark Association (INTA), for which around 4,700 members of the so-called Generation Z from Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the USA were polled.

Making their purchasing decisions, Generation Z is caught between ethical principles and practical considerations: According to the study, only about 17% consider counterfeits to be “okay” or “completely okay”, but in practice financial considerations often prevail. For around 47% of Gen Zers polled, income is the main factor in their purchase decision, while morals outweigh money for only about 37%.

Motivating factors for purchasing counterfeits include a better availability and a lower price: About 58% of those polled reported that counterfeits were easier to obtain than originals. In addition, about 57% said they can only afford the fake versions of some brands. The same number of respondents also believes that buying counterfeits directly supports the livelihood of the respective seller.

In contrast, a main deterrent is the often substandard quality of fakes: Around 81% of respondents agree that counterfeits are a security risk, while 77% believe that the quality of counterfeit goods is generally not good enough. According to the study, potential damage to the environment and the prospect of supporting organized crime also have a negative effect on the intention to buy fakes.

When communicating these discouraging risks to the Generation Z, brands generally enjoy a high level of credibility, the study found. According to the polls, brand representatives are considered to be the most trustworthy source of information on fakes (55%), followed by media personalities (45%), and social media influencers (40%).

In total, around 52% of respondents want to buy fewer counterfeits in the future – and 91% are generally willing to adapt their views based on new facts they learn. “The door is open to change the mindset and buying habits of this significant group of consumers,” said INTA President David Lossignol. “The Gen Z Insights study alerts brand owners that they need to pay attention and adapt marketing strategies.”

Sources: International Trademark Association, IPPro