Counterfeiting of Brands in India

Rising heads of ugly fakes
Counterfeiting of Brands in India

Actually I am very glad that people can buy Armani - even if it's a fake. I like the fact that I'm so popular around the world said Giorgio Armani.


Rapid advancement in technology and liberalization of the Indian economy have created an ideal market for people misusing existing brand values that have been cultivated and nurtured over a period of time. The mushrooming growth has also given rise to despicable marauding activity, which is nothing but piracy. But the question arises here is that is it the popularity factor which promotes counterfeiting among people or the need factor? I guess it is both.


Counterfeiting also referred as piracy in a common trade parlance mean the unlawful acquisition by a person of the property of another person without his consent. Ever since the evolution of brands, the business has marked a trend in the society where everyone wants to associate himself / herself with the latest quality fashion trends in different forms like branded clothes, institutes, branded products etc. After all, what matters at the end is to show off the branded You!!

The word counterfeit describes the forgeries of currency and documents but these days the imitations of clothing, software, pharmaceuticals, jeans, watches, electronics, and company logos and brands have become common in the market. In the case of goods, it results in patent infringement or trademark infringement. Certain consumer goods, especially very expensive or desirable brands or those which are easy to reproduce at low rates have become quite frequent and common targets of counterfeiting. The counterfeiters either attempt to deceive the consumer into thinking they are purchasing a legitimate item, or convince the consumer that they could deceive others with the imitation. Some counterfeits are produced in the same factory that produces the original, authentic product, using the same materials.


Indian metros have become base for manufacturing counterfeit products and account for maximum Intellectual Property Rights violations. Delhi is the hub of counterfeit products in India as nearly 70 per cent counterfeit products originate here.

Again the question comes is what has evoked counterfeiting?


Brand business, its growth /competitions etc has led to availability of counterfeits because of the fact brand sells and makes you outstand and therefore the need to copy, pirate, counterfeit has emerged along with the growth of brands.

In India, the direct loss to FMCG industry is also not less than Rs 200 million. A survey was conducted to estimate the size of counterfeit of FMCG products and it revealed the stark reality of FMCG companies having maximum loss upto 40% and an average loss around 20% of their market share of their well known products.


The biggest concern is, however, the customers’ attraction towards these pirate products is directly proportional to price of these products which are sold at 40 to 45% lesser value than the original. A common man with limited knowledge falls for the counterfeit products due to its cheap or discounted prices. Enforcement of laws against counterfeiting is not so strict in India which is another big jolt for the brand industry.


As counterfeiting has become an economic problem of international importance and has been growing dramatically across the globe, manufacturers of the original products and government find themselves in a constant battle against counterfeiters. This has led to a variety of countermeasures based on lawful, political, administrative, or business techniques. The framework also considers the interplay of attitudes, purchase intentions, and dissonance that leads to coping processes and in turn influences attitudes and decisions. Counterfeiting appears in two different forms, as deceptive and non-deceptive counterfeiting. Under receptive counterfeiting, the consumer is not aware of the fact that he/she purchases a copy rather than the original product and cannot be held accountable for the behavior. Focus is on non-deceptive counterfeiting, where consumers intentionally purchase fake products.


The most popular counterfeit market is clothing, followed by shoes, watches, leather goods, and jewelry. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, Tiffany, Prada, Hermes, Chanel, Dior, Yves St Laurent, and Cartier are frequently pirated.


Studies say if consumers would not buy; there will be no market for the counterfeit retailers. It also reveals the consumers which include students and businessmen as the major section with 31%, service class (19%) and housewives with 17%. So the question is: who is to be blamed - the retailer or the counterfeit prone consumer?


The customers site few reasons to shop fake products from street markets like branded products available at cheaper rates, choices and variety of designs, one shop for all purchase items. However, they also feel the need of strict laws which can prevent counterfeiting. Nevertheless, a joint effort has been made by FICCI and the leading FMCG companies to bring all companies together to initiate a war against such menace. It is a Brand Protection Committee (BPC) with the objectives to combat the commercial theft since large number of factors goes into a brand building, unscrupulous persons pocketing something which belongs to someone else and also piggybacking on someone else’s reputation and to bring awareness amongst society since these counterfeit products deceive the gullible consumers.


However these steps are not enough to stop counterfeiting, Indian Government and other statutory bodies should take active interest for the protection of legitimate business and provide whole- hearted support to the industry at large.


The Author Nadita Abraham, HOD, Business and Technology Department, Pearl Academy of Fashion has written this with inputs from Harpreet Kaur, (Her student who was on a re search project).

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