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Study: EU youngsters find it acceptable to buy fakes

June 12, 2023

By Colin Mann

A study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) indicates that while Europeans are growing wary of counterfeits and illegal content, price remains a deciding factor as young consumers are more likely to find it acceptable to buy fakes.

The study, European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour, finds that Europeans are becoming increasingly conscious of the risks associated with buying counterfeit goods and accessing content from illegal sources. According to the study, 80 per cent of Europeans believe that criminal organisations are behind counterfeit products and acknowledge that such purchases harm businesses and employment. Moreover, 83 per cent think that buying counterfeits supports unethical behaviour, and two-thirds recognise the potential threats to health, safety, and the environment. When it comes to digital piracy, 82 per cent agree that accessing content illegally poses risks such as scams and exposure to inappropriate content for minors.

Despite these findings, the study reveals a disconnect between awareness and behaviour. One in three Europeans (31 per cent) finds it acceptable to buy counterfeit products if the price of the genuine product is too high. Among younger consumers aged 15-24, this figure jumps to 50 per cent.

In the past year, 13 per cent of Europeans admit to having intentionally purchased counterfeits. This figure is substantially higher among those aged 15-24, at 26 per cent, but falls to 6 per cent for those aged 55-64 and below 5 per cent for individuals over 65.

The study also highlights variations among countries, with Bulgaria leading in the intentional purchase of counterfeits at 24 per cent, followed by Spain (20 per cent), Ireland (19 per cent), Luxembourg (19 per cent), and Romania (18 per cent).

One major deterrent to buying counterfeit products is price. A more affordable price for original products is cited by 43 per cent as the top reason for refraining from buying fakes. The risk of poor quality (27 per cent), safety concerns (25 per cent), and legal repercussions (21 per cent) also play a role.

The study reveals uncertainty among consumers regarding the authenticity of products. Nearly 40 per cent have doubted the authenticity of a product they bought, with disparities among EU Member States. In Romania, 72 per cent of consumers have had such doubts, compared to 26 per cent in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Additionally, 41 per cent of Europeans are uncertain about the legality of the sources they use for online content. Despite this, 80 per cent prefer to use legal sources if they are affordable. Notably, 65 per cent consider it acceptable to engage in piracy if content is not available through their subscriptions.

Speaking about the study, EUIPO’s Executive Director, Christian Archambeau, emphasised the importance of understanding perceptions to engage in meaningful dialogues and awareness campaigns. “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,” he added. “It also confirms positive developments regarding the awareness and availability of digital content from legal sources.”

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