17% of UK women have purchased counterfeit beauty products

17% of women have knowingly purchased a counterfeit product online, with beauty, fashion, jewellery and accessories being the most popular items, found new research from the Government’s Intellectual Property Office.

It seems that social media has had an impact on this figure too. Of those who admitted to purchasing counterfeit products, 13% of female participants aged 16–60 have said they were influenced by social media endorsements, while a further 3% admitted to proactively search for counterfeit items using social medial posts and channels to assist in their searches, the report found.

Counterfeit beauty cosmetics are the third most investigated counterfeit products in the UK, with £2.2 million worth of fake products being seized by police in 2019/2020. For those who admit to purchasing counterfeit products, 20% of knowing buyers are habitual buyers – generating half (53%) of the demand.

Meanwhile, of those 17% who knowingly purchased a counterfeit product online, 70% were 16-to-33-year-olds, and those in that age bracket are responsible for generating 77% of demand for counterfeit products.

The report found that age is a strong determinant of counterfeit product purchasing, with younger women five times more likely to purchase counterfeit products than older women. 

Counterfeit beauty products can be extremely dangerous as counterfeiters will rarely use quality materials and often use toxic chemicals, including cyanide, arsenic, lead, and mercury into their goods, which can seriously endanger the health of users.

In the past, the police have warned YouTubers not to use “fake” make-up in online tutorials because they could be harmful.

The research was gathered through an anonymous survey of 1,000 UK women aged between 16 and 60 years old who use social media at least once per week to study attitudes around purchasing counterfeit goods.

The study’s main aim was to determine whether social media influencers have an impact on the intentions of female adults to purchase counterfeit goods. The influence market is currently dominated by female influencers promoting counterfeit fashion, accessories, jewellery, and beauty products to female consumers.

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