Every year, billions of searches rack up on Google regarding counterfeit goods. From a fake Fendi to a counterfeit Chanel, millions of consumers worldwide try to snag the opportunity of purchasing an imitation version of the hottest luxury goods.
In a new report by SEMrush, the most searched counterfeit brands have been released, and the leader tolled a staggering 29,000 searches per month. Supreme, a streetwear brand established in 1994, is popular amongst those in the skateboarding scene and fashion lovers. This is the third year in a row that the brand has topped the list of counterfeit searches, along with Gucci and Louis Vuitton. The brand is so popular that bands such as The 1975 have featured the name in their lyrics: Kids don’t want rifles; they want Supreme.
Currently, counterfeit items make up five to seven per cent of the world trade and accumulate $US450 billion in global sales. “The clothing label is not alone. From shoes to accessories, be it casual brands or luxury labels – there is a hunger for fakes. Other most frequently searched-for brands include Vans and Ray-Ban Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe,” explained Jana Garanko, a spokesperson for SEMrush.
Most Popular ‘Fake’ Brand Searches
- Supreme – 13,911 monthly searches
- Ray-Ban – 8,117 monthly searches
- Vans – 7.427 monthly searches
- Oakley – 6,593 monthly searches
- Patek Philippe – 3,711 monthly searches
- Audemars Piguet – 3.141 monthly searches
- Hermes – 2,336 monthly searches
- UGG – 2,323 monthly searches
- Michael Kors – 1,618 monthly searches
- Lululemon – 1,030 monthly searches
Most Popular ‘Authentic’ Brand Searches
- Vans – 3,978 monthly searches
- Ray-Ban – 1,320 monthly searches
- Nike – 982 monthly searches
- Converse – 973 monthly searches
- Gucci – 822 monthly searches
- Supreme – 809 monthly searches
- Rolex – 611 monthly searches
- Martens – 547 monthly searches
- Louis Vuitton – 533 monthly searches
- New Balance – 479 monthly searches
Brands including Louis Vuitton have been the centre of counterfeit for many years, mainly down to the expensive price tag attached to the accessories and its established style. “Unfortunately, Louis Vuitton is also one of the most counterfeited brands in the world,” explained a spokesperson for Entrupy, a designer label authentication app. “Not only a function of popularity, this is aided by the fact the brand has changed relatively little since its inception150 years ago. Because the brand has produced many of the same styles and uses the same materials decade after decade, bad actors have had more tie to develop near-perfect replicas.”
“Luxury brands have supported their development of youth-oriented product categories like sneakers and streetwear items with innovative e-commerce models and celebrity-driven activations on relevant digital platform,” explained Danielle Bailey, Managing Vice President of APAC Research and Advisory at Gartner L2. “The ‘it sneaker’ has emerged as a status symbol used for self-expression and is the key gateway luxury purchase for young shoppers in China.”
According to the Power Retail Shopper Profile Report on Luxury Shoppers, 66 per cent of online shoppers believe that the price value of these luxury items will not increase or decrease in the next six months, but 24 per cent of consumers think that the items will increase in value. While there has been a 5,9 per cent inflation since 2017, overall, these costs ebb and flow with the growing cost of living.
The Dangers of Counterfeit Luxury
It’s no surprise that counterfeit products are rising in popularity – the cheap prices are enticing and the designs are almost identical to that available in-store. However, there are serious consequences for those who make a purchase via an inauthentic site.
Overall, counterfeit consumer goods cost the retail industry USD600 billion every year. In the last two decade, counterfeit products have grown by 10,000 per cent. According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), these fake consumer goods puts 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by 2022, as well as projected drainage of USD4.2 trillion ‘from the global economy‘.
Counterfeit products enter the market through various channels. Platforms like AliExpress are a huge market for the industry, however, users have to resort to certain search terms in order to find them. According to Fashionista, they “can come through illegitimate websites where customers may believe they’re getting a good deal on the real thing, only to be sent a fake. They can also come in the form of fraudulent returns at full-price stores.”
How Should Retailers Respond?
For brands such as LV, Prada and Gucci, it can be a hard task to tackle these counterfeits without damaging their own reputation. Eighteen per cent of online luxury fashion and accessory shoppers have a salary below $75,000, and 17.7 per cent have an income between $150,000 and $199,990. With the increase of fast-fashion online, and the constant threat of bogus pieces becoming cheaper and more appealing to customers, designer labels have had to adjust their sales prices to accommodate to those who want to wear designer items without the hefty price tag.
Of course, if a luxury brand lowers its price, it wouldn’t be considered ‘luxury’ anymore. This is where ‘affordable’ luxury comes into play. A T-shirt from Moschino can sell for $150, putting it in this category without removing its exclusivity. Not everyone can afford to splurge on one of these pieces, but those who wish to rock the brand without spending a small fortune have the opportunity without turning to fakes.
Now it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for authenticators to tell the difference between a real and a fake luxury piece. As mentioned earlier, brands like Louis Vuitton have established a strong brand image and have barely deviated from its original logo, materials or designs. This means that counterfeit creators have plenty to work with in order to create their knock-offs.
Selfridges has introduced a service by the technology platform, Entrupy after it discovered that some consumers were purchasing counterfeit products in-store. After the service was trialled in 2019 it found that 11 of the 109 returned items were fraudulent.
“There’s no regulation, so when you think about who’s making them, it’s horrifying; you’ve got kids chained to tables, women locked in factories. The chemicals that are used in [producing these items] — there’s no data as to what they can do to you,” explained Deanna Thompson, the Director of Business at Entrupy. “People think it’s a victimless crime,” she added. “It’s just a lack of education.”
Like this story? Sign-up for the free Pulse Weekly Newsletter for more essential online retail content.