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New Multi-Country Study Explores Gen Z Purchase Behaviors, Moral Compass: Generation in Argentina Puts Income above Morals when Weighing Real vs. Counterfeit Goods

Published: May 16, 2019

New York, New York—May 16, 2019—The International Trademark Association (INTA) today released a comprehensive research study that takes a deep dive into the behavior of Gen Z—the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020—when it comes to their relationship with brands and their attitudes toward counterfeit products in 10 countries, including Argentina. The study uniquely explores through a moral versus practical lens what drives Gen Z’s decisions to purchase real or counterfeit goods, and offers brand owners a roadmap to communicating with these 18 to 23 year olds.

Among the major findings of the study, titled “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products,” Argentina epitomizes what was discovered to be an internal conflict created by Gen Z’s values and their practical considerations. 

In looking at the top two factors—morals and income—which influence Gen Zers’ opinions about fake products, in Argentina, income beat out morals by 34 percent; that’s 24 percent more than the global average and higher than any of the other six countries with a similar finding.

“Gen Zers often apply a lens of situational morality to their purchase decisions, and practical considerations can overtake moral ideals,” the study found.

But Gen Zers are struggling with this moral versus practical tension. “For me, buying fakes is ethically wrong, but the price of the originals are way too high,” summed up Diego, 21, of Argentina, one of the respondents.

In addition, in Argentina, 89 percent of Gen Zers say they have purchased counterfeit products in the year prior to the study—ranking the country second highest, along with India, among the countries surveyed. Nigeria was first, at 97 percent of respondents.

The study of the Gen Z psyche is set against two powerful global backdrops. The first is the emergence of Gen Z as the largest demographic group, making it critical for brand owners to understand them. The second is the proliferation of counterfeiting, with the international trade in counterfeit and pirated products, including digital piracy, estimated to skyrocket to as high as $2.81 trillion by 2022, according to a study published in 2017 by INTA and the International Chamber of Commerce-BASCAP.

INTA focused the Gen Z Insights study on individuals born between 1995 and 2000. The research consisted of qualitative virtual discussions with 30 Gen Zers from four countries in August and September of 2018, followed in November 2018 by a quantitative online survey of 4,500+ Gen Zers from 10 countries: Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States. Multiple factors went into selecting these countries, including the Gen Z population, prevalence of counterfeit goods, and level of economic development.

The research identified three major characteristics and attitudes of Gen Z toward brands and counterfeit products: individuality, morality, and flexibility. 

In Argentina, 91 percent of Gen Zers say it is important to always be true to who they are; 85 percent determine their own moral code; and 85 percent believe brands should aim to do good in the world.

Dominating their attitudes toward brands, Gen Zers say that a brand name is not as important as how the product fits their needs (83%).

The study also found that 91 percent of Gen Zers have a lot of respect for people’s ideas and creations; and 77 percent of Gen Zers have at least heard of intellectual property rights.

Despite this, across all countries, “functional benefits like price and accessibility come to the forefront as reasons Gen Zers buy fake products,” according to the study.

In Argentina, Gen Zers cite these top functional benefits of counterfeits: “I can only afford the fake version of some brands (66%), “my money benefits the seller who’s making a living for him/herself” (64%), and “fake products are easier/more convenient to find than genuine products” (63%). In addition, 66 percent feel they cannot afford the lifestyle they want.

On a positive note, in Argentina, 91 percent of those surveyed expressed openness to change their views based on new things they learn.

“The door is open to change the mindset and buying habits of this significant group of consumers. The Gen Z Insights study alerts brand owners that they need to pay attention and adapt marketing strategies,” said INTA President David Lossignol, Head of Trademarks, Domain Names and Copyrights at Novartis Pharma AG in Switzerland.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to jump on that opportunity through education. We need to drive home the message that not only are counterfeit products dangerous, they are also socially unacceptable,” he emphasized.

In response to the findings, and as part of its call for more extensive education, INTA announced that it is expanding the reach of its Unreal Campaign—which informs young consumers worldwide about the value of trademarks and brands and the dangers of counterfeit products—from 14 to 18 year olds, to 23 year olds. The campaign includes educational presentations at schools—in 38 countries so far—and social media messaging.

In Argentina, those who buy counterfeits say they would change their behavior if a fake product is bad for their health (80%) or the environment (68%), and if money spent on the products supports organized crime (65%).

Looking to the future, only 34 percent of Gen Zers in the country expect to buy fewer counterfeit products —much lower than the global average of 52 percent. Prompting this is their desire for better quality things (68%), their ability to afford genuine products (37%), and their belief that “fakes will continue to get worse and less convincing” (30%).

 “The fact that Gen Zers see their identity as a ‘work-in-progress’ is a good thing in the fight against counterfeiting,” Mr. Lossignol said. “As Gen Zers get older, maturity, affordability, a desire for quality, and a greater awareness of counterfeits’ adverse impact on society may kick in and put a different spin on their purchasing behavior.”

INTA commissioned Insight Strategy Group, LLC, a market research firm based in New York, to conduct the study. The complete study and country-specific reports are available at

About the International Trademark Association (INTA)

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property (IP) to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation. Members include more than 7,200 trademark owners, professionals, and academics from 191 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark resources, policy development, education and training, and international network. Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Singapore, and Washington, D.C., and representatives in Geneva and New Delhi. For more information, please visit