The International Trademark Association ("INTA") released a study that explores Gen Z's relationships with brands and their perceptions of counterfeit products. Gen Zers between the ages of 18 - 23 in ten countries were studied.
Individuality, morality and flexibility were found to be the three defining characteristics of Gen Z, which strongly influence their purchasing decisions. Globally, 62% said that a brand name is somewhat or very important, with higher importance in India, China and Indonesia and less importance in the U.S., Japan, Italy and Russia. But brands are not the main consideration for Gen Z. 81% said that the product fitting their life and style is ultimately more important than the brand itself. Due to their strong sense of individuality, Gen Zers are less likely (only 42%) to look to their friends to decide what to buy and even fewer (only 35%) will buy the same brands as their friends. Most Gen Zers (76%) want to use popular brands in their own unique ways. Their sense of morality impacts purchases as well with 85% stating that brands should aim to do good in the world.
Regarding counterfeits, most Gen Zers were generally aware of IP rights and considered them important. But, the study points out that their sense of morality might be in conflict with practical considerations. The majority of Gen Zers agreed they cannot yet afford their ideal lifestyle and that they see counterfeits sold everywhere. This led to a staggering 79% of studied Gen Zers worldwide stating that they have intentionally purchased a counterfeit or fake product in the past year, which were most likely to be clothing, shoes or accessories.
Generation Z is said to be a bigger group than Baby Boomers or Millennials, so it will be interesting to see how their purchasing decisions and attitudes toward counterfeits evolve as they age. Many studies have found that Gen Z is focused on authenticity and truth, so it is fascinating to see that the overwhelming majority have knowingly purchased fakes.