Watch Out, Bargain Hunters: One in Five Duped Into Buying Fake Goods Online


“Buyer beware” applies now, more than ever, as holiday shoppers take to the web and mobile to snap up bargains. According to the latest MarkMonitor Shopping Report, one in five bargain hunters in the U.S. and Europe mistakenly shopped on e-commerce sites selling counterfeit goods while searching for deals online.

“Consumers are being waylaid by rogue e-commerce sites, causing brands to lose business. The findings from our Shopping Report underscore the importance of developing proactive brand protection strategies in the digital age,” said Fredrick Felman, chief marketing officer of MarkMonitor, Thomson Reuters’ enterprise brand protection business.

Working with Nielsen “to analyze anonymized data from Nielsen’s permissioned online panelists in six countries over a nine-month period, nearly five million shopping sessions were surveyed…focusing on the search terms the shoppers employed, such as ‘fake,’ ‘replica,’ ‘cheap’ or ‘discount,’ to determine their motivation.”

The MarkMonitor Shopping Report examined multiple demographics including age, income, education levels, and household size, and found that there are only minimal differences between online consumers seeking counterfeit goods and bargain hunters looking for a good deal on legitimate goods.

“These findings really challenge the common assumption that consumers who purchase counterfeit goods are distinctly different than those consumers buying genuine goods,” said Eric Solomon, SVP, global digital audience measurement, Nielsen.

“Deal seekers outnumbered consumers seeking fakes at the rate of 20 to 1,” notes the release from MarkMonitor, but deceptive pricing on counterfeit goods, often priced comparably to legitimate goods on sale, discounted at 25–50% off list prices, suggest ‘blowout’ or year-ender sales and lure unsuspecting shoppers.[more]

“Brands Lost Over $200 Billion to Online Brand Abuse Last Year,” reports the MarkMonitor headline. “The financial impact of online brand abuse is substantial and pervasive, resulting in revenue loss, increased customer service costs and exposure to legal liability. Other impacts of online brand abuse are more insidious, leading to significant erosion of margins, brand reputation and customer trust.”

“Online threats to brand revenue and reputation are significant—and growing:

  • $140 billion lost to counterfeiting annually
  • $100 billion lost to piracy annually
  • 28% increase in domain squatting in 2010
  • 53 billion visits to rogue sites in the last 12 months
  • 14% of branded paid search traffic is hijacked.”

“With Cyber Monday right around the corner, consumers across all segments must be vigilant when shopping online,” cautions Solomon.

The full MarkMonitor Shopping Report is available here.