Research Aims And Objectives
This research aims at providing insight and knowledge to young people aged between 18 and 24 years on the damaging effects of purchasing counterfeit items. As such, the researcher intends to discourage the target youth from purchasing the “knockoff” items.
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Definition of terms:
Counterfeit products: products that have been duplicated illegally in order to appear like the genuine products
Knockoff products: products that are similar, but not identical to the original products, usually made with cheaper materials.
Both knockoff and counterfeit products can be simply defined as cheap imitations of the genuine and original products. Often times, consumers fail to recognise the difference between the ‘fake’ and genuine products have similar labels, trademarks and packaging (Frerichs 20).
A keen observer can however distinguish between the two product categories based on the cost price or the quality difference. Since original designers usually want to give consumers a high quality product, they invest heavily in research and development (R&D), good designs, quality production materials, and marketing. When the product is finally released into the market, the cost price is inclusive of the expenses that the designer incurred in the course of developing the product.
People who make knockoffs or counterfeit products on the other hand do not have to invest in any R&D or marketing. All they do is observe the original product, purchase the materials needed to make the same and distribute the product. This means they incur fewer expenses and can therefore sell their products much more cheaply.
Besides denying innovators who invest heavily on R&D their well deserved earnings, Frerichs describes counterfeits and knockoffs as a “growing problem” that pose a major threat in respective national economies if it is allowed to thrive (20). The reason for this is that counterfeit and knock-off makers are in an illegitimate business and therefore do not usually remit due taxes to the government.
In light of the growing problem, organisations like the International Trade Mark Association (INTA) and the European Counterfeiting and Piracy Observatory (ECPO) keep encouraging governments to take collective action in order to discourage counterfeiting.
In 2007 for example, Schmidt observes that INTA was working with trade representatives from the United State and the European Union towards ratifying tougher sanctions against businesses that thrived in counterfeiting and pirating genuine products (1). The European Commission on the other hand observes that combating counterfeiting in the international market will need countries and designers to work in harmony in order to come-up with best practices that will put an end to the habit (1).
It is for this reason that the European Union intends to use the ECPO as a piracy and counterfeiting knowledge sharing tool across the EU market. This would be in addition to using the organisation in raising public awareness regarding the negative effects of purchasing counterfeited products.
The counterfeiters and knock-off makers thrive because there is a ready market for their products (Hidiyat 3). Some consumers knowingly purchase such products, while others simply do not know the difference between genuine and pirated products.
According to Hidayat, a consumer’s moral idealism interacts with moral relativism and ethical beliefs to form the attitudes that he or she portrays towards pirated products (3). This means that a consumer’s attitudes towards counterfeits and knockoffs are affected by his beliefs about what is right or wrong; his moral and ethical standards; and the culture or religion he subscribes to.
This campaign is however convinced that the production of counterfeit and knockoff products is tantamount to the cliché ‘reaping where one did not sow’, and is therefore not justifiable regardless of the moral, ethical, cultural or religious principles that both the producers and consumers of such products subscribe to.
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A 2009 estimation by Commuri suggests that the illegal trade of counterfeit and knockoff products cost the genuine product makers somewhere between $15 and $50 billion each year (86). Once counterfeited or knockoff products are released into the market, the genuine designers also loose the exclusivity or prestige they had intended for their products.
This means that counterfeits compromise the quality and image of a brand. This observation is supported by Commuri who states that “counterfeits unanimously imperil the equity of the genuine item” (87).
Counterfeits and knockoffs also affect the job market. According to Furnham and Valgeirsson, the two vices lead to an estimated $200 worth of lost jobs, sales and taxes annually (678). In the United Kingdom alone, it is estimated that the government looses $3.8 billion revenue annually, while the genuine manufacturers loose an estimated $10 billion annually (Furnham and Valgeirsson 678).
Having established that the consequences of counterfeit and knockoffs was indeed a threat to the world economy, Furnham and Valgeirson sought to establish why people purchase such products. They established that some people do so out of ignorance, economic concerns, while others just purchase counterfeits or knock-offs out of slyness.
Goals and Objectives
This campaign intends to sensitize the youth about the negative effects of purchasing counterfeits or knockoffs. By the end of the campaign, a significant number of students who would otherwise purchase a product without considering its authenticity, originality or quality should be more willing to countercheck these identifiers.
More to this, a significant number of youth who knowingly purchase knock-offs or counterfeited products should be willing to give up the habit. Overall, this campaign seeks to communicate the fact that the dishonest nature of the counterfeiting business kills capitalism in the country, thus jeopardising the entire economy.
As such, young people should support genuine businesses by deliberately purchasing genuine products. The campaign will target young people who are unaware of the harm that counterfeit and knockoffs pose to the economy, as well as those who recognise that the problem exists but still continue purchasing the pirated products.
|Month 1||Weeks 1&2||Conduct a survey in Colleges A & B in order to establish the student’s attitudes and perceptions in relation to counterfeit and knock-offs.|
|Weeks 3 & 4||Analyse the survey findings and determine the best approach to use in the campaign|
|Month 2||Launch campaign in colleges A & B|
|Month 3||Conduct survey in colleges A& B to determine the effect of the campaign on students. Analyse, compile and write the survey findings.|
Main PR steps to be taken
In addition to the research that will be carried out in the two identified colleges, the PR firm commissioned to promote the anti-counterfeit/ knockoffs agenda among the college youth will generate and disseminate relevant information about the campaign.
With such information, the firm intends to create an understanding among the youth, based on the understanding that purchasing knockoffs or counterfeited goods is tantamount to supporting the illegal industry.
The second step will involve defining goals and objectives in the campaign. As stated elsewhere in this report, the campaign intends to cause a reduction in youth willingness to purchase counterfeits or knockoffs. It is expected that the campaign will have some constraints. For example, changing the attitudes of consumers who think there is nothing wrong with purchasing knockoffs or counterfeit goods will be a challenging undertaking.
The third step will involve choosing the right media channels to use. Based on the young people’s liking for the internet, the campaign will target the students using the social networking sites. The campaign will also seek to partner with the two college’s administration in incorporating the campaign in their respective intra-sites.
Awareness creation materials will also be circulated among students, and others placed on the notice boards located in different locations in the colleges.
Evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign
Another research will be conducted among college students in the two identified campuses to determine whether the campaign has had an effect on their attitudes or not. The success or failure of the campaign will be determined by the number of young people who had earlier indicated that they would purchase knockoffs or counterfeits, but who had changed their minds by the end of the campaign.
50 or more conversions will be interpreted to mean the campaign was a success, while 30-49 % will interpreted to mean the campaign was fairly successful. If the conversion rate will be below the 30 percent mark, the campaign will be deemed to have failed.
I feel that this campaign will have an effect on the attitudes of young people, because earlier research by Furnham and Valgeirson had indicated that a significant percentage of counterfeit or knockoff buyers do so out of ignorance (679). Creating awareness about the negative effects that such products have on the economy will probably convince them to purchase only genuine products in future.
Appendix A: Questionnaire
- Do you knowingly and willingly purchase knockoffs or counterfeited goods?
- Do you know the implications that counterfeits and knockoffs have on genuine manufacturers?
- Do you know the implications that counterfeits and knockoffs have on the national economy?
- Do you think the trade in counterfeited goods should be allowed to continue?
- What would you propose as the best way to fight counterfeits and knockoffs?
- Do you think it is ethically wrong to trade in, or purchase counterfeited goods?
- What is your perception about the price of counterfeits or knockoffs vs. genuine products?
- What is your perception about the quality of counterfeits or knockoffs vs. genuine products
- Do you think the government has an obligation t o shield genuine manufacturers from makers of counterfeit products or knockoffs?
- Is there an ethical difference between money counterfeiters and apparel counterfeiters?
Appendix B: Press Release. An anti-counterfeit/ knockoff campaign targeting youth in colleges
Before young people begin their respective careers in earnest, they deserve to know what drives or reverses the economy of this country. It is for this reason that the campaign dubbed “Say no to counterfeits and knockoffs” will be launched on November 1, 2010.
The campaign targets college students aged between 18 and 24 years, and will run for two months. The campaign is intended to educate the young people regarding the harmful effect that the counterfeit and knockoffs business has on not only genuine manufacturers, but also on the bigger economy.
As future leaders and decision makers in this country, the youth have a responsibility to enhance the virtues of hard work and innovation, which have been centric to the country’s development. As such, this campaign intends to inform them that unless the trend on trading in counterfeited or knockoff goods is reversed, the country may very soon see a situation where the zeal to invent new things dies off completely.
Based on the young people’s use of the social media, the campaign will be internet based, and social sites such as FaceBook, twitter and MySpace will be used to pass the campaign messages across the target population.
Commuri, S. “The Impact of Counterfeiting on Genuine-Item Consumers’ Brand Relationships.” Journal of Marketing 77.1 (2009): 86-89. Print.
This article argues that counterfeiting erodes the prestige and exclusivity of genuine products hence disadvantaging the genuine designers by driving away genuine-item consumers. I used this article due to its relevancy to the campaign.
European Commission. “The European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy.” The EU Single Market. 2010. Web.
This Web article argues that no country can succeed in fighting counterfeit and piracy in isolation. I used it because it offers insight on some of the activities the EU is undertaking in order to fight counterfeiters.
Frerichs, A. Attitudes toward counterfeit Fashion: A South Dakota State University Case Study. 2010. Web.
This article is based on a case study in South Dakota State University. The author investigated the attitudes that young people have towards counterfeited products. I used the article because it was relevant to the campaign.
Furnham, A. & Valgeirson, H. “The Effect of Life Values and Materialism On Buying Counterfeit Products.” The Journal of Socio-Economics 36 (2007): 677-685.
This is a research article that investigates how personality traits, beliefs and attitudes affect people’s readiness to purchase counterfeit products. I used this article due to its relevancy to the campaign.
Hidayat, A. “Purchase Intention of Pirated Branded Product.” Centre for Indonesian Marketing Studies. 2010. Web.
This article investigates why people purchase pirated products. I used the article because it sheds more light on the subject of the campaign.
Schmidt, M. “Governments unite against counterfeiting” International Trademark Association (INTA). 2010. Web.
This is a press release announcing the signing of a multilateral anti-counterfeiting agreement between European Union countries and the United States. I used it because it reveals some of the anti-counterfeit steps that INTA has taken in the recent past.