Dark Insights: The Global Issue on Counterfeiting Brands
In a 2015 Business Insider report, it was disclosed that the Chinese elite now considers Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags for “secretaries”. Now this might sound far-fetched, you might be thinking why a heritage brand is given this bad rep from such a lucrative market that international conglomerates would like to tap in. But their point is really valid. In a 2012 study by the Digital Luxury Group on the World Luxury Index™ of Handbags, the Japanese have the same feelings as well. So why is this sentiment growing? The reason? They are too common.
In a setting where counterfeits are really widespread, designer brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Marc Jacobs have become accessible to the general public albeit through fraudulent means. The seemingly elusive and luxurious bags have lost their luster. Even affordable luxury brands such as Longchamp and Goyard are not safe from the counterfeiting machinery at play and it is not just in China, it has become a global pandemic we turned a blind eye to. Luxury goods have always been a difficult to pinpoint. It is something that everyone wants to acquire, yet financially detrimental to do so, at least to the lower and middle class. So what is it about these goods that everyone wants to get their hands on them? For one, they are a status symbol, a symbol of power and wealth, a trophy of purchasing power and the people from the lower and middle class usually want to experience a taste of that power even if it means faking it to the top. With this premise, it is a lucrative business selling this insatiable desire. And it is damaging for brands and the people involved in the creative process of conceptualizing these goods.
But back to the mentioned brands, why are they so susceptible to counterfeiting? You don’t have to do a deep dive to know why. It is because of the branding itself and the logos emblazoned in every good of the brand. It is important to note that there are many types of consumers and when it comes to luxury goods, the market is usually segmented into two buying groups: people who purchase luxury products to fit in and those buying the goods to stand out.
And it seems the latter dominates the former. Many people nowadays have shifted their preferences in choosing luxury, it is more about subtlety now. They want you to know that it is Gucci, without you knowing its Gucci. To make a statement but without really showing it. So brands who have capitalized on their logos and branding might be at risk here.
So how can this be solved? As of now, there are no global laws in place to protect brands from mass counterfeiting. The solution might be a design-related one with conceptualization of a more complex line of luxury goods that is difficult to replicate, but this is easier said than done. michael kors sales bags