Having started life as a US-centric pre-Christmas Sales phenomenon, the day after Thanksgiving, now universally known as “Black Friday”, traditionally sees retailers offering heavily promoted discounts on everything from televisions and mobile phones to luxury fashion brands.
However, according to new research by Tosshan Ramgolam, Brand Advisor at online IP and brand protection software provider Incopro, the run-up to this year’s Black Friday has seen a huge spike in online counterfeiting activity. For one well-known premium fashion brand, in particular, 15,989 high-risk and possible fake listings were identified on eBay alone during November, compared to 8,588 in the preceding October – an increase of 86% over just one month. The research also identified a spike in counterfeit Amazon listings for a famous cosmetics brand, with 562 high-risk listings detected in November 2019 compared to 212 in October – an increase of 165%.
This sharp increase in infringement experienced on online marketplaces is echoed on social media, with posts promoting counterfeits often hijacking both generic Black Friday hashtags and those set up by brands themselves. By way of example, the research notes the increasing use of #blackfriday and #promoblackfriday in Instagram posts to promote counterfeit watches during the four-week run-up to the day itself.
Says Tosshan of the findings: “In order to protect consumers from buying fakes, marketplaces need to invest greater resources into monitoring and responding to requests for takedowns during the holiday season. Just a short three-hour window where a counterfeiter holds the buy box on Amazon (the option to buy now or add the item into the shopping basket) or a fraudulent eBay listing tops the platform’s search ranking is enough for dangerous goods to be purchased by hundreds if not thousands of consumers. Ultimately, platforms need to do more to protect consumers. If they don’t, greater regulation of the e-commerce landscape that places increased responsibility on platforms may become necessary”.