Consumers tighten their fake designer belts

Demand for counterfeit luxury goods in the UK may be set to rise.
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According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ latest research, a third of consumers aged 18 to 45 are prepared to buy fake luxury clothes and accessories. The results of the survey of over two thousand adults highlight the ongoing risk of counterfeiting to luxury brands, particularly in light of the tightening economic environment which may tempt shoppers to buy fake products in the run up to Christmas.

Only half of consumers surveyed think that it is unacceptable to buy fake luxury clothes and accessories, typified for the purpose of the research as brands such as Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo.

Curiously, ABC1 respondents, who are deemed more affluent and skilled than C2DE consumers, were slightly more likely to buy fake goods. Younger consumers were less concerned with authenticity, with more than a third of 25 to 34 year olds prepared to buy fake goods compared to only twenty per cent of those aged over fifty five.

The research also shows that younger consumers are motivated by the brand image associated with luxury goods - almost a quarter said it was their reason for owning them, whereas thirty per cent of older consumers opted for 'quality and feel compared to high street items' as a reason.

Consumer demand for luxury items has manifested itself by:

• High street shops and supermarkets chains bringing items which emulate designer goods into their stores in record time.

• Well-known designers developing diffusion lines for their stores, so they have one foot in couture and one on the high street.

• Celebrities designing ranges to sell on the high street.

• Mix and match style - cheaper clothes being blended with one designer piece.

• A new breed of consumer magazines showing us where we can buy affordable versions of designer goods on the high street.

• The stretching of luxury brands into more mainstream items such as mobile phones, sunglasses and fragrance, for example. This has widened the market and made luxury items affordable and accessible to virtually all consumers.

Mark Hudson, UK retail and consumer leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, commented: “Ostensible wealth worn, literally, on the sleeve, is back in vogue, but consumer buying behaviour is both an opportunity and a threat to the luxury goods industry. Designer brands are perpetually paraded in our popular culture and this has created demand, particularly for accessories, as they are the one of the cheapest ways to emulate the luxury brand experience.

“At the same time, given the increasing squeeze on consumer expenditure from rising interest rates, grocery costs and utility bills, we may start to see a growing appetite for fake, unlicensed luxury items.

“Some high street stores have reproduced designs which are similar to those of designer brands, but for a fraction of the price, arguably sending a signal to the consumer that replicating luxury items is acceptable.”


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