‘22% of consumers bought fake goods endorsed by social media influencers’

New Delhi, August 10 (IANS): About 22 per cent of consumers aged 16-60, who are active on social media, have purchased counterfeit goods endorsed by influencers, a new study said on Thursday.

In the study, the researchers of the University of Portsmouth found that counterfeiters are leveraging the popularity and trust of social media influencers to promote their illegal wares, making it easier than ever for consumers to find and purchase counterfeit products.   

“Social commerce is the new frontier for marketing, and the social media influencers are the new royalty. Consumers in this marketplace often rely on remote recommendations by third parties, and these influencers have increasingly replaced the customers' own evaluations of purchasing risk,” said Professor Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime at the University of Portsmouth.

The study revealed that the success of deviant social media influencers lies in exploiting certain consumer characteristics that make them susceptible to their charms that include high susceptibility to the influence of trusted digital others, low-risk awareness, high-risk appetite and a tendency to rationalise morally questionable purchases.  

The researchers also suggested that young consumers are most likely to fall prey to the persuasive tactics of these influencers.  

The findings showed that young adults aged 16-33 years are three times as likely to purchase endorsed counterfeits as older consumers aged 34-60 years. 

Males account for 70 per cent of all buyers, with their risk tolerance and susceptibility to influencers contributing to this high prevalence. 

“Counterfeit products injure and kill hundreds of thousands of people across the world. The working conditions in the counterfeit factories are unsafe with subsistence-level wages. Don't be fooled by social media influencers. We strongly urge everyone to check the products they endorse,” said Dr David Shepherd, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Portsmouth.

In addition, the study mentioned that buyers of endorsed counterfeits are twice as susceptible to the influence of friends and social media, indicating a strong impact on their purchasing choices.