The social cognitive theory was propounded in 1941 by Miller and Dollard but by then it was proposed as a theory of social learning and imitation that rejected behaviorist notions of associationism in favor of drive reduction principles (Pajares, 2002). The author further stated that “it was a theory of learning that failed to take into account the creation of novel responses or the processes of delayed and non-reinforced imitations” but “by 1963, Bandura and Walters wrote Social Learning and Personality Development, broadening the frontiers of social learning theory with the now familiar principles of observational learning and vicarious reinforcement”.
The theory asserts that the much of human learning occurs in a social context and is gained through observation (Denler, 2014) because when individuals observe others, they tend acquire knowledge, skills, strategies, beliefs, and attitudes. It deals with “cognitive, emotional aspects and aspects of behavior for understanding behavioral change” (University of Twente, 2010).
ASSUMPTIONS OF THE THEORY
1. According to Bandura (1989), it is believed that in social cognitive theory, behaviour, cognition and other personal factors, and environmental influences all operate as interacting factors that influence each other bidirectional.
2. People have an agency or ability to influence their own behavior and the environment in a purposeful, goal-directed fashion (Bandura, 2001 in Denler, 2014)
3. Learning can occur without an immediate change in behavior or more broadly that learning and the demonstration of what has been learned are distinct processes (Denler, 2014)
4. Miller and Dollard stated that if humans were inspired to learn a particular behaviour they would be able to learn just by observing models and then reinforced by imitating those models (Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso, 2008)
Image idea from www.physio-pedia.com
Sincero (2012) added that in order for an individual to repeat a pleasant behaviour he must include his intellectual process and that environment influences our behaviour, and behaviour can also influence environment. Environments are the factors that can affect a person’s behaviour which consists of social and physical environments. Social environment are family members, friends and colleagues while Physical environment is the size of a room, the ambient temperature or the availability of certain products (University of Twente, 2010). Human beings have the capacity to extract meaning from their environment (Pajares, 2002) meaning that they can easily tap from things they observe around them.
In personal factors of individuals, they possess self-beliefs that enable them exercise an amount of total control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions i.e. “what people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave”(Bandura, 1986 in Pajares, 2002). In other words individuals have control over whatever changes that occur and how it would affect their behaviour.
Behaviour is a person\’s actual ability to perform a conduct through essential knowledge and skills (Boston University School of Public Health, 2013). The authors further explain that, for an individual to successfully perform a particular behaviour, the person must know what to do and how to do it because people learn from the consequences of their behavior, which also affects the environment in which they live.
This theory has been used by several literatures to predict why individual and consumers behave the way they do and also to explain how the environment is a great influencer of their attitude towards situations.
RELEVANCE TO THE STUDY
The theory tries to explain how individuals environment influence their behaviour towards the counterfeit or the luxury brand. People that live in the rural areas might not see the need to own an original luxury brand because people that live in that same area with them might not be involved in the purchase of the luxury brand and as such they might not value the original luxury brand. On the other people that live in the highbrow areas might see the need to own an original luxury brand to show their social status and the counterfeit would not be an option for them when a purchase decision is made, because the people that reside in such vicinity might not include a counterfeit brand when they make purchases.
2.2 REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE
2.2.1 Brands and Counterfeit Luxury Branded Products
A brand is a product, service or concept that is publicly distinguished from other product, service or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed (Chacharkar, 2013). A brand, in the words of Stone and Desmond (2007:92) refers to, “a product which has been effectively differentiated from others and which has been provided with a form of personality which resonates with its target audience”. In simpler terms, a brand differentiates a company from other companies and has features that are in line with its target audience.
Counterfeits can be said to be products that are dishonestly made to look like the genuine product but typically lower in quality in terms of performance, reliability or durability (Lai and Zaichkowsky, 1999 in Wilcox, Kim, and Sen, 2009). The Anti-Counterfeiting Group defines counterfeiting as “the deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods bearing well known trademarks, generally together with packaging and product configuration, so that they look like they are made by a reputable manufacturer when they are, in fact, inferior copies.” (Hoe, Hogg, and Hart, 2003). Some these counterfeits are made to look just exactly as the original while others are made to look similar to the original but carry the brand name as the original or a brand name that sounds similar the original. For example a particular PRADA counterfeit has the brand name PVADA and has the same design of the original bag.
The issue of counterfeiting has become the order of the day as manufacturers involve in the production of fake goods in order to take advantage of the profit that would be derived. Counterfeit usually come in lower quality of the original because its manufacturers make use of inferior materials in the production. The OECD records that, counterfeiting represents 5 to 7% of the world trade (200 to 300 billion of Euros) and also caused the loss of 200 000 jobs across the world (European Commission in Maman, 2008). The existence of these counterfeits has caused a lot of companies’ downfall because they cause damage to the brand image which in turn affects their market.
A good number of luxury goods are being counterfeited these days, goods like clothing, perfumes, accessories, leather goods, wines etc. The most common form of counterfeit is counterfeit luxury branded products which involves the production of replicas of original luxury branded products and then sold at low prices (Phau et. al., 2009 and Wilcox et al. in Lu, 2013). In Lu (2013) it was observed that the counterfeit luxury branded products is associated with and possibly generates loyalty to counterfeit products because its owners were found out to have favourable attitude towards the counterfeit. Some of these counterfeits actually offer satisfaction to its users because they actually come cheaper and they can be recognised as individuals that can afford to own a branded product.
Some consumers prefer to change looks frequently and feel that purchasing an original luxury brand limits that desire and prefer to purchase a counterfeit that offers similar benefits and comes cheaper such that they can switch brands anytime they like or get tired of the product they previously tried. Counterfeit brands are usually associated with mass production because unlike the original luxury brand that is produced seasonally or quarterly, the counterfeits are usually produced in large amount frequently. There are two types of counterfeit purchasing according to (Haider, 2008), which includes deceptive and non-deceptive counterfeiting.
188.8.131.52 Deceptive and Non-Deceptive Counterfeiting
It is true that counterfeits are made to convince consumers that they have bought the original. However, this is not the case for all counterfeit brands. During the purchase of products consumers may or may not know that they are participating in an unlawful act of purchase. Counterfeiting comes in two forms, when the consumer is not aware that he/ she is buying a fake he becomes a victim of counterfeiting, we can deduce that he is engaging in ‘deceptive counterfeiting’ (Maman, 2008). In other words that individual has been deceived into a wrong purchase.
On the other hand, when consumers are aware of the origin and are informed that the product is an inferior quality, they are engaging in ‘non-deceptive counterfeiting’ (Cademan, Henriksson, and Nyqvist, 2012) which is the main focus of this research work. The consumers can often distinguish between the counterfeit and the genuine brand especially on the basis of differences in price, the distribution channels and the inferior quality of the product itself (Nia and Zaichkowsky, 2000 in Wilcox et. al., 2009). Non deceptive counterfeit brands could generate great satisfaction for consumers who have limited budget and do not necessarily see counterfeits as inferior goods (Cordell et. al., 1996 and leibowitz 2005 in Lu, 2013)
2.2.2 Original Luxury Branded Products
Luxury itself has been defined in several ways. Hennigs, Wiedmann, Klarmann and Behrens (2013) define original luxury as “a promise of decadence and a dream of an exclusive lifestyle, a key component of marketing management and a tagline in commercials and advertising campaigns”. The authors’ further mention that to some consumers, original luxury represents materialistic traits and superficial possessions while others see it as deeper values, excellent craftsmanship and a country’s identity. The word luxury defines “beauty”, when linked with brand it could be regarded as “images in the minds of consumers that comprise associations about a high level of price, quality, aesthetics, rarity, extraordinariness and a high degree of non-functional associations”, (Heine, 2012)
The concept of the original luxury brand usually comes from the mind of its originator usually driven by a vision (Triandewi and Tjiptono, 2013). The authors further added that “individuals consume luxury goods because of their desire to differentiate themselves by either being part of their reference group, or to separate themselves from other groups preferably to become part of a higher social class”, this is probably the reason why they are the prime targets of counterfeit brand owners because of their popularity amongst consumers. Dubois, Laurent and Czellar (2001) in Stegemann (2006) proposed a definition of the nature and characteristics of the concept of luxury, and identified six sides which are excellent quality, very high price, scarcity and uniqueness, aesthetics and polysensuality, ancestral heritage and personal history, and superfluousness.
In spite of the economic recession, the demand for luxury branded products worldwide has not diminished and is still strong even in the presence of counterfeits as consumers are willing to pay more to associate with the benefits of luxury branded products (Jung and Shen, 2011 in Lu, 2013).
2.2.3 Original Luxury Fashion Brands
Fashion products in general, comes in various forms such as apparels (jackets, coats, t-shirts, trousers, skirts and dresses), accessories (bags, purses, wallets, and watches) and jewelries (necklaces, earrings, rings etc.). The original luxury fashion brands are those that are directly manufactured from the manufacturers of Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Prada H&M, Nike, Zara, Gucci, Hermes, Cartier, Addidas etc.
They are usually the target of counterfeit brands because of its uniqueness, exceptionality and its ability to yield profit. According to Gould and DeBord (2015), the world’s top 10 brands that are worth a whopping $121.74 billion include Louis Vuitton, H&M, Nike, Zara, Gucci, Hermes, Cartier, and Addidas, Prada, and Tiffany & Co., they worth the sums of $22.55, $21.08, $19.86, $12.13, $10.39, $8.98, $7.45, $7.38, $5.98, $5.94 Billion respectively. They are usually uniquely made from the creativity of its originators. Original luxury brands are made in a way that makes its users stand out from their peers because of the quality materials used in the production and also the price at which it is sold for.
A lot of counterfeit brands are found in this sector because they are widely used by a lot of individual on a daily basis. Consumers like to look good so purchases of fashion good are made regularly.
2.2.4 Comparative Analysis between Counterfeit and Luxury Brands
Image retrieved from http://www.lollipuff.com
There is an obvious difference between counterfeit and luxury brands. Although the counterfeit brand makers have become smarter to make the counterfeit of the original look almost like the original brands, consumers find it difficult to differentiate but loyal luxury brand consumers are able to detect one when they see it, but some other consumers fall victim of their act.
Investing in the purchase of a luxury brand earns a lifetime guarantee for example the original Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton etc. but when you invest in buying the fake, you are not investing in anything because you cannot resell it and when it starts wearing off you become at a loss (Gurfein, 2015). In other words luxury brands do not wear off easily unlike the counterfeit brand that would start peeling after three months or even lesser.
Original luxury brands would always make use real leather that would have irregular texture with subtle leather scent unlike the counterfeit that usually has a consistent pattern of pores that would have a strong chemical smell (Patkar, 2013). The author further mentioned that the logos of original luxury brands are usually perfect and bold unlike the counterfeit that would be faint and inconsistent.
For clothing, the stitches for the original are usually neat while the stitches on counterfeits are rough. Original luxury brands usually expensive while the prices of counterfeits are usually too good to be true because they are usually outrageously cheap, for example an original luxury brand that should originally be sold for 200,000 naira having its counterfeit sold for 1000 naira. The spellings on the label of counterfeits are sometimes wrong, for example PVADA instead of PRADA. Finally, the packaging of original luxury brands are usually exclusive and of high quality while that of the counterfeits are carelessly packed using low quality (Patkar, 2013; Mahalo, 2015)
2.2.5 Consumers’ Perception of Counterfeit Brands and Luxury Brands
Perception basically concerns peoples feeling about something. It refers to “our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli” (Cherry, 2015). Perception includes the five senses; touch, sight, hear, smell and taste. Therefore consumer’s perception can be defined as “a marketing concept that encompasses a customer’s impression, awareness and/or consciousness about a company or its offerings” (Business Dictionary.com)
People react to brands differently because they perceive the attributes differently and form attitudes based on their perception of the brand. Even the same individual may perceive the same brand differently at different times (Masterson and Pickton, 2004). Consumers evaluate directly product attributes based on physical elements such as tasty, smell and size while others use variable such as place of origin, type of distribution channel, price, packaging the manufacturer and among others (Agyekum, Haifeng, Agyeiwaa, 2015). Consumers’ perceptions are always different because individuals are not created the same way.
Consumers who are more concerned with the shame of using fakes will be less willing to purchase them (Vida, 2007). In other words, consumers who feel embarrassed when using counterfeits are less likely to be attracted to counterfeits. The theory of planned behaviours reinforcement of the importance of subjective norm is very important here because reference groups especially the consumers peers help to influence consumers purchase intentions.
Wiedmann, Hennigs, Siebels (2007) observed that “it is expected that different sets of consumers would have different perceptions of the luxury value for the same brands, and that the overall luxury value of a brand would integrate these perceptions from different perspectives”. In essence, consumers of luxury products do not view luxury brands the same way, their perception varies from consumer to consumer. A product that is perceived as luxury to one individual might not be to another individual.
Literatures have indicated that Consumers’ perception of counterfeit brands might be that they would not be accorded the necessary respect when they use such brands so they would rather make use of the original luxury brand just for the respect and recognition and vice versa while consumers perception of luxury brand is that it give them a feeling of prestige and it showcases their social status.
2.2.6 Price of Counterfeit Brands and Consumers’ Perception of Original Luxury Brands
In order to discuss how counterfeit brands affect consumers’ perception of original luxury brand, it is important to note that price is one of the concerns. Price as a concept can be defined as money charged for a product or service (Masterson and Pickton, 2004). There is no doubt that counterfeits offers price advantage which attracts some consumers but this in turn has a great influence on the way consumers view luxury brands.
Consumers feel that they cannot afford to buy original luxury brand because they are too expensive and are not affected by low quality and poor materials because they do not see counterfeits as inferior choices (Ergin, 2010). In other words consumers would rather buy the counterfeit especially because of budget restrictions even if the products do not have premium quality.
Counterfeit products usually with low prices often made with expensive materials which increase their value especially through their packaging and quality makes it difficult for people to distinguish the counterfeited product from the original one (Yaqub, Ahmed, Nasir, Sharif and Javaid, 2015), this is why some consumers prefer to pay lesser for a counterfeit when they feel they are also buying quality.
As a result of the above, the consumption of original luxury brands is usually on the decrease. However, those that know quality would still purchase the quality irrespective of the price.
2.2.7 Availability of Counterfeit Brands and Consumers’ View of Original Luxury Brands
The availability of counterfeit brands in the market has increased to an alarming rate such that it can be found just anywhere thereby devaluing the essence of limiting the access to original luxury brands.
The originators of original luxury brands limit the access to the brands just to create a scene whereby the consumers who cannot afford the expensive brand can envy the ones who can. This is no longer the case as consumers have abundant opportunities to purchase the counterfeit luxury brands since these brands can be easily found in local markets and high street shops scattered across most urban cities in the country (Ergin, 2010).
Counterfeits are easily accessible which makes it easier for consumers to get whatever they need at first instance with ease, this is because they are illegally brought into the country and are then sold in several places like the road side, local markets etc. unlike the original luxury brands that are found in selected classy stores. When these goods that are supposed to be scarce are found everywhere, consumers might not see the need to purchase the original luxury brand since they have been provided another option that is readily available.
2.2.8 Improved Quality of Counterfeit Brand and Consumers’ Opinion of Original Luxury Brands
The quality of counterfeit brands has improved greatly such that makes it difficult for consumers to differentiate between counterfeits and the original. Counterfeiters try their best to attract consumers with the help of new manufacturing technology which has now been out-sourced and new technology such as high quality equipment’s has helped to increase the sophistication of counterfeit products (Yao, 2006)
Consumers now have the option to have a good quality product even if it is not the original luxury brand and they also have the option to get good quality at a lower price. This improved quality has the tendency to affect the sales of luxury brands because some consumers would rather go for good quality at low price rather than better quality at high price.
2.2.9 Personal Gratification from Counterfeits and Consumers’ Perception of Original Luxury Brands
Gratification simply means satisfaction, pleasure; fulfillment etc. form this we can say that, personal gratification is linked to the need for a sense of accomplishment, appreciation, and a craving to enjoy the finer things in life (Basu, Basu and Lee, 2015). The authors went further to say that if a consumer believes that buying product is a means of personal gratification, self-representation and status, the consumer is likely to hold an unfavorable attitude toward the behavior of buying a counterfeit.
Consumers believe that whether they wear or carry a counterfeit or an original brand they can be recognised as using a branded product and that those who purchase the counterfeit brand end up getting just the reputation of the original brand without paying for it (Penz and Stottinger 2005 in Ergin, 2010). Similarly, Ergin (2010) stated that Consumers who buy counterfeit brands just want to demonstrate that they can afford branded goods and also show that they belong to a particular social group, or to use the product for symbolic self-extension. Maslow’s hierarchy of need also states that consumers usually have “the need to feel a sense of accomplishment and gain recognition, status, and respect from others” (Belch and Belch, 2003: 109)
Conclusively, it is safe to say that status consciousness, the need for social recognition and high self-image positively affect purchase intention and perception of original luxury brands because genuine products convey the image of wealth, high social standing and affluence (Wee, Tan and Cheok, 1995 in Ergin, 2010)
2.2.10 Past Purchase of Counterfeits and Consumers’ Perception of Original Luxury Brands
When consumers have previously purchased a counterfeit product and felt no discomfort or uneasiness they are likely going to want to try it again or another type of counterfeit because they are possibly going to depend on their past experience with the product. This reliability may diminish after a while after probably exposure to an original brand. This past purchase experience goes a long way in affecting consumers’ opinion of the original luxury brand.
Yoo and Lee (2009) explains that past purchase of counterfeit brands is supposed to result in purchasing a counterfeit again while the past purchasers of original luxury brands would also buy the original over and over again. If this is true of past purchase of counterfeits, it means that consumers who buy counterfeits would remain loyal and might not have any interest in luxury brands which in turn has the tendency to affect their perception of the real brand.
2.2.11 Brand Equity vs. Counterfeit and Original Luxury Brand
It has been previously discussed that counterfeit brands has an influence on consumer’s perception of luxury brands. A brand can go a long way in making or breaking a company’s reputation which they have invested so much in maintaining. In order to measure consumers perception of luxury brand one approach is to measure the brand equity from the customer’s perspective (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993 in Cademan, Henriksson, and Nyqvist, 2012). Brand equity refers to the added value that a certain brand name gives to a product in the market place (Boone and Kurtz, 2005). The authors further add that brands that have high equity are more liable to have financial advantage over competitors because they command large market share and consumers may pay little attention to differences in prices.
Brand equity can be seen from two perspectives, which are the marketers and customers perspective (Peter and Olson, 2005) From the customer’s perspective, brand equity is the added value bestowed on the product by the brand name (Schiffman and Kanuk, 1997) while from marketers perspective, brand equity suggests greater profits, more cash flow and greater market share (Peter and Olson, 2005). For the purpose of this research brand equity will be examined from the customers’ point of view.
Brand equity from customer’s perspective also called customer-based brand equity can be defined as “the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand” (Keller, 1993:p.8 in Cademan et. al., 2012). According to the European institute for brand management (2009) Aaker’s brand equity model identifies five brand equity components which consist of Brand loyalty, Brand awareness, Perceived quality, Brand association and other proprietary assets. Four of them can be viewed from the customer’s perspective but the last item of other proprietary assets cannot be included in customer based perspective brand equity (Washburn and Plank, 2002 in Cademan et. al., 2012) because it contains trademarks and patents which is not from customers’ perception.
Image retrieved from Crescitelli E. and Figueiredo B. J. (2009)
184.108.40.206 Brand Awareness
Brand awareness refers to “the ability of target consumers knowing about a brand and calling it to mind when thinking about the product category” (Bearden, Ingram and LaForge, 2004). Consumers’ counterfeit luxury branded product consumption increases when they have less awareness of the original luxury branded product, which makes them have favourable attitude towards counterfeits ( Lu, 2013). In other words, when consumers are fully aware of a particular brand they are more likely to purchase that brand instead of the brand they do not know about.
220.127.116.11 Perceived Quality
Perceived quality is one of the most important aspects of brand equity and it refers to the extent to which a brand is able to provide products with good quality (European institute for brand management, 2009). It has great influence on the performance of a brand in the market in the presence of its competitors. When a company is able to include quality in the production of its product it is assumed that they would make more profit than the company who does otherwise. A brand with greater quality is more likely to be preferred by consumers than the brand with a lower quality.
18.104.22.168 Brand Association
Brand association is anything which is deep seated in customer’s mind about the brand (Management Study Guide, 2015). The author further explained that “brand associations are not benefits, but are images and symbols associated with a brand or a brand benefit”. Consumers will often ask for a product by the specific brand name rather than the general name of the product category (AllBusiness.com). For example consumers could go into a store to request for a Rolex wristwatch rather than going to request for a wristwatch.
Brand association can come from the qualities of product or service, from symbols, not just logos but symbols like people (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson), things like the Coke bottle, Trump Tower or Mickey Mouse ears, there can also be association with the time of the year or an occasion (Thoranna, 2015). The higher the association with luxury brands the lower the likelihood of consuming counterfeit brands (Lu, 2013)
22.214.171.124 Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty occurs when a consumer repeatedly purchases a product produced a particular by a particular company instead of buying that same product from a competitor (Grimsley, 2015). Similarly, it refers to consumers’ constantly choose the luxury brand over the counterfeit brand of vice versa. The brand name, packaging, brand identification, price promotion and channel of distribution could prompt consumers to repeatedly purchase a particular brand (Peter and Olson, 2005). The more brands loyal a customer is for a brand and the more brands loyal these consumers are, the higher the brand equity or the value of the brand in the market (Bearden et. al., 2004).
Among all these dimensions of brand equity, brand association and perceived quality are the most important when discussing about the influence of counterfeit brands on consumers’ perception of luxury brands. This is because brand loyalty mainly focuses on existing consumers’ rather than the prospective customers and brand awareness talks about a consumer knowing the brand and not how they perceive the brand.
2.2.12 Influence Counterfeits on Luxury Brands
Counterfeiting has a great influence on luxury brands because it is quite sad to invest so much on developing your product just to find out that it has been copied or stolen as the case may be. According to Basheer and Loizides (2014) “Counterfeiters undermine this investment, and as such, the legitimate interests of the brand owner”. In the case where counterfeit brands are being sold like they are original, the brand being copied risks losing its luxury status, and also revenue and market share
Consumers might unknowingly purchase a brand thinking they have purchased an original product that would last them for a long while, but unfortunately didn’t meet up to expectation due to lack of quality as a result of the use of an inferior product in the cause of production. Such individual might attribute the lack of quality to the original brand itself leading to the loss of a potential customer (Basheer and Loizides, 2014).
The major targets of luxury brand owners are consumers who like to show off their social status as though they are the one who can afford to buy very expensive brands but the existence of counterfeits in the market has change this idea. Consumers who do not have the capital to own genuine brands can now fulfill their desire to have those brands by buying the counterfeit which have made it possible for anybody regardless of the social class to own a luxury brand (Wilcox et. al., 2009; Wiedmann et. al., 2012 in Cademan et. al., 2012). Literatures have also observed that counterfeits may reduce the attractiveness of original luxury branded products and harm the brand in terms of consumer confidence.
The nature of a luxury brand is to be limited in distribution i.e. it is not meant to be found just anywhere but the existence ant counterfeits this is no longer the case as branded product can be found anywhere now a days. For example, markets like the popular Balogun market in Lagos is a typical example of where a lot of counterfeit luxury brands are found in almost all stores. Most of the products carry the luxury brand labels on them and are displayed on the floor or in shops.
Although, counterfeits could help original brand improve brand awareness because luxury brands are very expensive for majority of customers and just consumed by a small proportion population (Müller & Kocher, 2006 in UKessays, 2015). In other words, because of the spread of counterfeits in different place consumers are able t have it in their mind that such brand exist. For example a consumer is aware of the fact that a Michael Kors brand exist because of the presence of its counterfeit in the market.
Counterfeits can help to advertise the luxury brand such that some counterfeit buyers can advance to the original product and others who have never bought counterfeit but has come across the brand as a result of the display of counterfeits become buyers of original brands (Raustiala and Spirgman, 2012)
It is evident that the influence could be both positive and negative but mostly more of negative. This testifies that counterfeits have impacts on its counterpart which is the original brand.
2.2.13 Strategies to Curb Counterfeiting by Luxury Brand Owners
Luxury brand owners in their own little way can help to stop the spread of counterfeit product from thriving in the market. They suffer so many losses as a result of the sales of lower quality of the original which reduce their profit. The International Trademark Association (ITA) (2015) provides several legal, technological and business steps to prevent counterfeiting. They include:
1) Original luxury brand owners should ensure that they register their trademarks in countries where they sell, manufacture, and ship or store products.
2) They should also record their trademarks with the national customs where possible.
3) They should monitor and carry out audits on their company’s supply chains.
4) They should add authentication devices to genuine products.
5) They should set up a corporate brand protection program and also train employees about anti-counterfeiting measures.
6) They should monitor brick-and-mortar and online stores.
7) They should take legal action in civil court when needed.
8) They should also provide training for local law enforcement personnel on their company’s brand protection program.
Assisting and supporting law enforcement in the seizure of counterfeit goods and the arrest and prosecution of counterfeiters. Brand owners should also work closely with legitimate online and brick-and-mortar retailers to prevent inadvertent sales of counterfeit products.
By taking these actions provided by ITA changes can be made in the market of luxury goods and the value attached to the goods can be protected in the extinction of counterfeits. Similarly, Manufacturers and wholesalers should make sure that they regularly check the IDs of the companies they do business, and avoid trading with scandalous firms or those that have been known to sell counterfeits (Lewis, 2009). The author further mentioned that manufacturers of luxury brands can also try to inform consumers on different ways to identify original and counterfeit goods.
2.2.14 Contribution of Government and Agencies to Curb Counterfeiting
The authorities in power such as the government in Nigeria have a great role to play in helping the originators of intellectual property save their rights by eliminating the issue of counterfeiting. Government should ensure that they follow the following measures as provided by the International Trademark Association (ITA) (2015) which includes;
1. Governments should ensure that they develop calculation methods that lead to fines against counterfeiters proportionate to the harms caused by them; and impose sanctions, such as contempt of court, for failure of counterfeiters to pay such fines.
2. Governments should ensure that they establish prohibitory regimes against exports of counterfeits; eliminate bond requirements imposed on trademark owners as a condition to processing counterfeiting cases by customs; and take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate the burdens on trademark owners of suffering costs of storage and destruction of counterfeit goods.
3. Governments should also ensure that they take appropriate steps to ensure that all counterfeit goods are compulsorily destroyed, definitively removed from channels of commerce, or disposed of with the rights holders’ consent where there is no health or safety risk.
4. Governments should amend their trademark laws to allow courts to award significant statutory (or “pre-established”) damages against counterfeiters in recognition of situations where it is difficult for the trademark owners to prove their measurable monetary damage.
5. In regions where counterfeiting poses serious challenges, governments should establish specialized intellectual property crimes investigation and prosecution units within their law enforcement and prosecution structures, respectively.
6. Governments should also allocate sufficient resources towards training judges and customs officials, and ensure the submission of litigated trademark cases to judges specializing in or having substantial experience in trademark matters.
7. Governments should revise their rules and procedures to provide prompt and reasonable access by trademark owners to relevant documents and information gathered by governments on counterfeiters for the trademark owners’ use in conducting private investigations or the filing of complaints to the courts or other government agencies.
8. Governments should not consider administrative enforcement to be sufficient to satisfy their obligations under Article 61 of the TRIPS Agreement to provide access to criminal enforcement in counterfeiting cases on a commercial scale, nor should administrative proceedings be considered as a substitute for criminal enforcement of intellectual property rights.
9. In order to ensure that trademark owners have sufficient time to commence a proper action pursuant to a seizure/suspension of clearance by customs authorities so that instances of counterfeits being released by the customs authorities can be eliminated, the governments should provide in their laws a time period of at least 20 working days or 31 calendar days, whichever is longer, to trademark owners to commence such action.
If these measures are being adhered to counterfeiters would not have the opportunity to thrive in the market of fashion brands in Nigeria.
2.2.15 Efforts to be taken by Consumers to Curb Counterfeiting
In order to curb the problem of counterfeiting from the consumers side, it is important for consumers to cultivate the habit of resisting the temptation to purchase counterfeits. Although there are some consumers who do not know that they are purchasing a fake product but many consumers who purchase counterfeits know that it is fake and purchase the product just to feel among or just because it comes cheaper than the original and many more reasons. Lewis (2009)’s response to such consumers is that “these consumers need to be aware that their actions could harm consumers, businesses, and society, and could also encourage organized crime and terrorist activities”.
Consumers should also try to know the characteristics of substandard products. One of which is that they come cheaper than the original brand. For example a Hermes bag that should sell for about 100,000 naira and more is sighted in the market and sold for as low as 5,000 naira should be suspected to be a counterfeit. Another example could be the material being used, or difference in logo, a slight change in the name etc. All these characteristics should be known in order to avoid purchase.
Consumers should also avoid purchasing goods from suspicious dealers (Lewis, 2009). When consumers sight dealers such as the ones that are probably selling branded goods on the road side or when buying from an online platform and coming across an expensive brand that is sold at a very cheap price. Consumers can help by informing the producer or law enforcement of their suspicions (Lewis 2009).