How to Reduce the Purchase of counterfeit “knockoffs” by College Age Youth (18-24 years old)

Research Aims And Objectives

This research aims at providing insight and knowledge to young people aged between 18 and 24 years on the damaging effects of purchasing counterfeit items. As such, the researcher intends to discourage the target youth from purchasing the “knockoff” items.

Definition of terms:

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Counterfeit products: products that have been duplicated illegally in order to appear like the genuine products

Knockoff products: products that are similar, but not identical to the original products, usually made with cheaper materials.


Both knockoff and counterfeit products can be simply defined as cheap imitations of the genuine and original products. Often times, consumers fail to recognise the difference between the ‘fake’ and genuine products have similar labels, trademarks and packaging (Frerichs 20).

A keen observer can however distinguish between the two product categories based on the cost price or the quality difference. Since original designers usually want to give consumers a high quality product, they invest heavily in research and development (R&D), good designs, quality production materials, and marketing. When the product is finally released into the market, the cost price is inclusive of the expenses that the designer incurred in the course of developing the product.

People who make knockoffs or counterfeit products on the other hand do not have to invest in any R&D or marketing. All they do is observe the original product, purchase the materials needed to make the same and distribute the product. This means they incur fewer expenses and can therefore sell their products much more cheaply.

Besides denying innovators who invest heavily on R&D their well deserved earnings, Frerichs describes counterfeits and knockoffs as a “growing problem” that pose a major threat in respective national economies if it is allowed to thrive (20). The reason for this is that counterfeit and knock-off makers are in an illegitimate business and therefore do not usually remit due taxes to the government.

In light of the growing problem, organisations like the International Trade Mark Association (INTA) and the European Counterfeiting and Piracy Observatory (ECPO) keep encouraging governments to take collective action in order to discourage counterfeiting.

In 2007 for example, Schmidt observes that INTA was working with trade representatives from the United State and the European Union towards ratifying tougher sanctions against businesses that thrived in counterfeiting and pirating genuine products (1). The European Commission on the other hand observes that combating counterfeiting in the international market will need countries and designers to work in harmony in order to come-up with best practices that will put an end to the habit (1).

It is for this reason that the European Union intends to use the ECPO as a piracy and counterfeiting knowledge sharing tool across the EU market. This would be in addition to using the organisation in raising public awareness regarding the negative effects of purchasing counterfeited products.

The counterfeiters and knock-off makers thrive because there is a ready market for their products (Hidiyat 3). Some consumers knowingly purchase such products, while others simply do not know the difference between genuine and pirated products.

According to Hidayat, a consumer’s moral idealism interacts with moral relativism and ethical beliefs to form the attitudes that he or she portrays towards pirated products (3). This means that a consumer’s attitudes towards counterfeits and knockoffs are affected by his beliefs about what is right or wrong; his moral and ethical standards; and the culture or religion he subscribes to.

This campaign is however convinced that the production of counterfeit and knockoff products is tantamount to the cliche ‘reaping where one did not sow’, and is therefore not justifiable regardless of the moral, ethical, cultural or religious principles that both the producers and consumers of such products subscribe to.

Situation Analysis

A 2009 estimation by Commuri suggests that the illegal trade of counterfeit and knockoff products cost the genuine product makers somewhere between $15 and $50 billion each year (86). Once counterfeited or knockoff products are released into the market, the genuine designers also loose the exclusivity or prestige they had intended for their products.

This means that counterfeits compromise the quality and image of a brand. This observation is supported by Commuri who states that “counterfeits unanimously imperil the equity of the genuine item” (87).

Counterfeits and knockoffs also affect the job market. According to Furnham and Valgeirsson, the two vices lead to an estimated $200 worth of lost jobs, sales and taxes annually (678). In the United Kingdom alone, it is estimated that the government looses $3.8 billion revenue annually, while the genuine manufacturers loose an estimated $10 billion annually (Furnham and Valgeirsson 678).

Having established that the consequences of counterfeit and knockoffs was indeed a threat to the world economy, Furnham and Valgeirson sought to establish why people purchase such products. They established that some people do so out of ignorance, economic concerns, while others just purchase counterfeits or knock-offs out of slyness.

Campaign Summary

Goals and Objectives

This campaign intends to sensitize the youth about the negative effects of purchasing counterfeits or knockoffs. By the end of the campaign, a significant number of students who would otherwise purchase a product without considering its authenticity, originality or quality should be more willing to countercheck these identifiers.

More to this, a significant number of youth who knowingly purchase knock-offs or counterfeited products should be willing to give up the habit. Overall, this campaign seeks to communicate the fact that the dishonest nature of the counterfeiting business kills capitalism in the country, thus jeopardising the entire economy.

As such, young people should support genuine businesses by deliberately purchasing genuine products. The campaign will target young people who are unaware of the harm that counterfeit and knockoffs pose to the economy, as well as those who recognise that the problem exists but still continue purchasing the pirated products.

Campaign timetable

Month 1Weeks 1&2Conduct a survey in Colleges A & B in order to establish the student’s attitudes and perceptions in relation to counterfeit and knock-offs.
Weeks 3 & 4Analyse the survey findings and determine the best approach to use in the campaign
Month 2Launch campaign in colleges A & B
Month 3Conduct survey in colleges A& B to determine the effect of the campaign on students. Analyse, compile and write the survey findings.


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