We’re all familiar with the iconic ‘Four Ps” of marketing, and since brand authenticity will play a big role in consumers’ decision-making process in 2021, a new survey by online brand protection software provider Incopro delves into shopper perspectives on the significance of that role and of brands’ obligation to protect consumers from a variety of malicious troublemakers. The findings of the study, with research partner Savanta, also have implications for brands in terms of how to market their products in a way that nurtures a sense of the original, builds trust, and retains customers while growing market share.
“With online shopping at an all-time high, we wanted to run this survey to take the pulse of where brand authenticity stands with consumers today,” said Piers Barclay, chief strategy officer at Incopro, in a news release. “Having worked with hundreds of leading consumer brands, we have seen the damage counterfeit goods and other scams can cause. We have also seen the speed at which bad actors, such as counterfeiters, impersonators, and copycats, react to new opportunities that arise as consumers move online. Our research has demonstrated, not only that brand authenticity is vital to consumers, but also that many consumers view this area as the brand’s responsibility.”
The shift online, coupled with minimal or non-existent regulation for e-commerce, search and social platforms, has led to an explosion in fake goods and inauthentic brand experiences. The rise of ‘insta-shopping’ and the ability of malicious actors to replicate complete brand experiences means that trust in brands is more at risk than ever before. While no brand can control all of the content that consumers are exposed to in their name, establishing where to act and how stresses the importance of gaining a comprehensive view of “what’s out there”—from the customers’ vantage point.
The survey found that:
U.S. shoppers continue to run into fakes on the Internet
Approximately a quarter (24 percent) of U.S. consumers reported that they have been sold counterfeit products. More than a third (36 percent) have experienced fake ads or social posts, while 41 percent have come across fake websites and 35 percent noted fake social media accounts.
Brand reputations can be significantly impacted when they are targeted by counterfeiters
Three out of four U.S. consumers, (73 percent) said they would be put off by a brand after unwittingly buying fake products. And 63 percent said that simply Googling and landing on a fake web page would taint the brand in their eyes. The vast majority (79 percent) of respondents said it was either very or extremely important for brands to feel real and authentic.
Consumers believe that fakes are a problem
Sixty percent of respondents said that they agree with this statement, and 71 percent are concerned about counterfeit goods feeding into criminal activity.
Brands are responsible for the public’s protection from counterfeit goods
Sixty-nine percent of consumers surveyed believe that brands are responsible for protecting shoppers from fake versions of their products sold online, and 65 percent of respondents feel that brands are responsible for protecting them from fake marketing content (e.g., communications, websites, etc.). Additionally, 77 percent of consumers believe that brands are responsible for reporting fake social media accounts that impersonate them.
Consumers think that brands can do more about fakes
Seventy-one percent of consumers believe that brands should be doing more to protect them from impersonating brands and phishing attacks. Only 33 percent of consumers see fraudulent products and content as an unavoidable part of today’s world.
The survey findings reveal that brands are falling below consumer expectations in dealing with the counterfeit goods problem. They are looking to brands to do more and that may mean extending responsibility beyond legal and deeper into marketing departments.
“Marketers are responsible for consumer engagement and how consumers perceive their brands across every conceivable touchpoint,” added Barclay. “If more marketers become accountable for monitoring and stopping the threats to their brands’ authenticity, we will see them deliver a truly outstanding experience. That’s why we are seeing growth in the number of marketers embracing protection as a new 5th ‘P’ of marketing, alongside product, place, price and promotion.”
The survey was conducted with 2,000 U.S. respondents in November 2020, in partnership with marketing research firm Savanta.