Counterfeit. The Visible. The Invisible.

The Real Cost of Counterfeit Goods.

You can call me any and all of these things; brand-centric, brand-conscious, brand-obsessed or a brand-lover, I am always emotionally invested when I purchase a brand. Generally, when shoppers are asked why luxury brands; the mention of unique design, great quality, high cost, and limited distribution to be contributing factors to their purchase. For many people, these are the characteristics that separate luxury from mainstream products. As you know, it’s my passion to follow the latest news in regards technology and product development. Better still, it’s often linked to celebrities who exploit their notoriety and influence to create hype in the market that ultimately drive sales. I’m fascinated at the collaborations and influencers used by these brands. All this, I’m sure, at a pretty penny.


So when I read in the news that, Africa and more importantly, South Africa is a prime target for counterfeit goods dumping, I am horrified. The highly visible influx of counterfeit goods is occurring across the entire African continent and we see this on a daily basis at flea markets, China Malls and traffic lights. Items like clothing, DVD’s, CD’s, Play Station games, designer labels, computer software, footwear and pharmaceuticals to name a few are sold at these junctures.
The Visible; It seems harmless to buy a knock-off item; after all, the originals are out of reach for most who are longing for a real designer label.


The Invisible; sinister and more harmful than it appears. In fact, the global counterfeit trade market is more lucrative than the trade in illegal drugs. It’s estimated that the total global value of fake goods is more than US$ 120 billion, this represents between 5% and 7% of world trade.


The reality is that counterfeiters undermine innovation, which is a vital ingredient of entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Huge Profits

There is no doubt that the increase in counterfeit goods represents a major threat to business and is also becoming a key barrier to trade. The distribution of cheap and poor quality pirated goods in a market creates an obstruction to the distribution of genuine products, this often resulting in huge financial losses. Some little known consequences to purchasing these items does in some cases relate directly to the support of the trade of narcotics, weapons, terrorism, prostitution, human trafficking, human organs, gang warfare, money laundering and child labour are but a few trades benefiting from your purchases.


Oftentimes, due to the lack of political will or corruption, Africa is being used as a transit route for fake goods, which poses an indirect threat to European and American markets, too. Some of the reasons why Africa has become an attractive destination of choice for counterfeiters, include:


  • the trade links between Africa and China, where most counterfeit goods originate from, are increasing;
  • the continent’s porous borders, while outdated legislation and weak enforcement mechanisms have helped to facilitate the illicit trade across Africa;
    • the reality that governments across the continent do no share information regarding fake goods; and
  • the reality that with modest resources at their disposal, many Africans do not consider the trafficking in counterfeits a serious crime, and would therefore not hesitate to acquire a knock-off product.

Be Authentic

For many consumers, luxury is an integral part of their lifestyle. They experience emotions of trust, security, contentment, and confidence. These emotions are evoked by perceptions that their luxury brands are authentic and timeless. For these consumers, it is not enough that a product is well designed and crafted with the best materials and workmanship. The luxury brands they treasure have the rare and intangible quality of truth. For whatever the reason is that you purchase brands, the feeling of accomplishment, aspiration, a sense of status or wealth or exclusivity; they serve a purpose known only to you, then why water this value down by purchasing fakes? Remember that by buying fakes you are not an innocent cog in the wheel, it’s not a harmless action, you are playing a part in stifling innovation and entrepreneurship which has a direct impact on our economic development. I urge you to make the conscious decision not to be part of creating or keeping this trade going, do the right thing.

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