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A new report released today reveals that 80% of consumers spanning the developed and developing world regularly purchase counterfeit and pirated products

A new report released today reveals that 80% of consumers spanning the developed and developing world regularly purchase counterfeit and pirated products, showing little remorse or fear of the consequences, including potential health and safety risks to themselves or their families.

The report, commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce through its BASCAP initiative and conducted by the international research firm StrategyOne, details results of a global study of more than 5,000 consumers in Mexico, India, the UK, South Korea and Russia. It provides a comprehensive look into why consumers buy fake products, as well as what types of fakes they are buying and where they buy them.

The research findings show that two-thirds of the consumers interviewed reported they bought some counterfeit or pirated products from time to time, and 14% admitted they bought them regularly. Only 20% of those interviewed said they never purchased a counterfeit or pirated product.

“Consumers show no remorse for their illegal activity, blame their own lack of resources for their behaviour, and feel no recourse associated with their actions,” said ICC BASCAP Coordinator Jeffrey Hardy. “Consumers need to see they are exposing themselves and their families to unsafe and dangerous products. They need to understand the real harm that can come to their communities as workers employed by legitimate brands are put at risk when counterfeit or pirated products replace purchases of legitimate products.”
Counterfeiting and piracy has grown into a global business valued at more than US$750 billion. The OECD reported in 2007 that more than US$200 billion in counterfeit and pirated products is moving through international trade channels alone.

While DVDs & CDs, clothes and computer software were the most frequently purchased, with over half of consumers reporting they bought counterfeit or pirated versions of these products, the range of counterfeit products purchased included medicines, auto parts, alcoholic beverages and food.

Availability and purchase frequency were strongly connected. The most common counterfeits are those most easily found, but strong differences were seen among the countries studied. For example, 61% of Russian consumers report easy access to counterfeit medicines compared with only 19% in the U.K. The study also found striking reasons why consumers are buying counterfeit or pirated products in the first place and what could deter such illegal actions in the future. Those surveyed believe people buy counterfeits and pirated products “Because they cannot afford the original” (71%), “Because they don’t know its fake” (58%) or “Because they think genuine products are overpriced” (57%).

Health risks are the most powerful argument (70%) to convince a friend to stop buying counterfeit or pirated products, the study said. The risk to personal belongings was also a strong deterrent (59%). “Getting in trouble with law enforcement” was not as convincing, with only 25% supporting this argument.

Some deterrents were particularly strong in specific countries: “You’ll get better service and warranty” was mentioned by 74% of Mexican consumers (20% more than the five-country average) as a good reason not to buy fakes. “Your money goes to criminals” was the answer given by 52% of Mexican respondents (13% more than the five-country average). In the UK “Setting a bad example for a child” was a good reason not to buy for 43% of consumers (versus 34% overall). In India, 43% of consumers said “You can have trouble with the police” (versus 25% overall).

“Consumers need to understand how they will benefit from foregoing purchases of counterfeit or pirated products to be inspired to change, and also understand and appreciate the full repercussions of their counterfeit purchases,” Mr Hardy added. “The report highlights how the right messages are critical in convincing consumers to stop the practice.”

While some counterfeit purchasers in all five surveyed countries came from lower-income groups, the frequency of counterfeit purchases actually increased with income in the UK, where 41% of lower-income purchasers reported counterfeit or pirated products compared with 47% for medium-income workers and to 50% of higher-income respondents.

In Russia, 88% of high income consumers admitted purchasing counterfeits, the highest percentage measured among higher income level consumers in the five countries studied.

“The research shows that consumers take a very casual approach to counterfeits, not recognizing the real harm that can come from their purchases,” Mr Hardy said.

“It also shows that consumers will change their attitudes and purchase habits when they understand the risks and dangers to themselves, their families and their communities. Consumers also are looking for evidence that government views this as a serious problem which has consequences.”

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