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July 31
Study Shows Korean Consumers’ Changing Attitudes on Counterfeiting

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At the Busan Global Gathering, which took place on May 20, 2017, the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea (ECCK), the prime advocacy organization for European companies conducting business in and with Korea, conducted a survey that analyzed consumers’ perceptions of counterfeit products. 

The goal of the survey was to gather information on Korean consumers’ perceptions of counterfeit products, these consumers’ purchasing patterns, and their opinions on increased enforcement activities against counterfeiting. The ECCK has conducted several similar studies on Korean consumers’ attitudes towards counterfeiting, including surveys in 2015 and 2016. 

Sven-Erik Batenburg, ECCK’s Head of Legal & International Affairs, remarked: “Since its establishment, ECCK has focussed on improving the IP environment in Korea by cooperating with relevant stakeholders. One of the key factors in achieving such improvement is the enhancement of public awareness of the benefits that IP provides and the damage that IP infringements (in particular, counterfeiting) can cause. ECCK conducts a yearly survey in Busan in order to measure consumer perception on counterfeiting. These surveys have shown a consistently high level of support for enhanced sentencing, including for consumers of counterfeit products. This year’s survey also serves to highlight the increased importance of online intermediaries. ECCK will continue its efforts to improve not only the offline, but also the online IP environment, for the benefit of all.”

The recent survey contained seven questions. Among the 407 respondents, 240 were female, 136 were male, and 31 did not indicate their gender. 

Out of the total number of respondents, 166 (41%) said that they had purchased counterfeit products. Those who reported having purchased counterfeits were predominantly in their twenties. 

Online shopping and e-commerce, including platforms like Alibaba, G-Market, Interpark, and Coupang, were the most commonly reported shopping outlets. Furthermore, respondents in their teens and twenties displayed the highest use of online platforms for counterfeit purchases. Compared with the ECCK’s 2015 study, the percentage of online platform users has nearly doubled (from 21% to 38%). 

The most appealing counterfeit products were all related to the apparel industry, with 29% of respondents reporting purchasing (or a desire to purchase) clothing or shoes, 27% bags or wallets, and 11% jewelry or watches. 

While almost all respondents (96%) said that counterfeiting is a problem, that it damages a brand-owner’s image, that it hurts local businesses, and that it harms consumers, more than half of all respondents (56%) reported that they believe most people purchase counterfeit goods because of a counterfeit’s low price. This is consistent with the ECCK’s 2015 study, where 68% of respondents reported that they believe a counterfeit’s low price is the most significant factor for consumer demand of counterfeit goods. 

More than two thirds of respondents expressed a desire for enhanced punishment of individuals involved in the counterfeit industry, while 17% of respondents advocated for punishing purchasers of counterfeit products. Since the ECCK’s 2015 study, there has been a trend of more favorable attitudes toward increasing anticounterfeiting enforcement activities. 

The full study and related materials can be accessed here

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