Survey reveals public misconceptions regarding counterfeiting


A survey commissioned by the Brazil-US Business Council has revealed that the majority of the public has misconceptions regarding the effects of counterfeiting on the economy.

The Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics conducted the survey at the request of the Brazil-US Business Council in partnership with Warner Bros Consumer Products and the Dannemann Siemsen Institute. The survey took place in April over a two-week period; it involved interviewing 602 persons over 16 years of age from a sample selection applying the demographic classifications as defined in the national census.

The two main objectives of the survey were to measure (i) the market for counterfeit and pirated goods in Sao Paulo, and (ii) the attitudes of consumers in that city in relation to the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods.

The results show that:

  • consumers purchase counterfeit and pirated goods fully aware of their illicit origin;
  • consumers believe that counterfeit and pirated goods cost half or less than half the price of legitimate goods;
  • consumers in younger age groups are the biggest purchasers of counterfeit and pirated goods; and
  • people from all economic classes purchase counterfeit and pirated goods.

According to the survey, 70% of the people who purchased counterfeit or pirated goods in the previous 12 months were aware that the goods were illegitimate. The majority knew that buying counterfeit products leads to tax evasion and debilitates the capacity of public investment in health and education.

However, consumers justify the purchase of counterfeit products with the arguments that famous brand owners profit tremendously from high prices and thus are not hurt much by counterfeiting. They also argue that production and trade in counterfeit goods creates jobs in poor countries, while famous brands only employ people in rich countries.

The survey demonstrates that counterfeit products are acquired by all segments of society and not mainly by lower classes. Interviewees of economic classes A and B (upper middle class and middle class) admitted to purchasing the following counterfeit products in the previous 12 months:

  • electronic games (15% and 17% respectively);
  • toys (17% and 27%);
  • watches (10% and 16%); and
  • spectacles (10% and 16%).

The results for economic class C (lower middle class) show a preference for:

  • clothes (21%);
  • toys (21%),
  • shoes (17%); and
  • watches (16%).

In relation to classes D and E (working class), the preferences are for:

  • clothes (18%);
  • toys (16%);
  • shoes (15%); and
  • watches (14%).

The survey also estimates the total value of counterfeit and pirated goods sold in Sao Paulo at R1.8 billion ($770 million) and the value for Brazil at R23 billion ($9.8 billion). This represents a tax revenue loss of R720 million ($3.07 million) for Sao Paulo and R9 billion ($3.85 billion) for Brazil.

Rodrigo Borges Carneiro, Dannemann Siemsen Bigler & Ipanema Moreira, Rio de Janeiro

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