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Brand hungry? Beware of counterfeits (Feature)

Delhi,Business/Economy,Features,Lifestyle/Fashion, Fri, 04 May 2012 IANS

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) So your friend told you about this tiny, hidden away shop in a busy market that sells well-known international branded clothes, shoes and accessories at dirt cheap prices? Beware. What is being offered could be a well imitated, fake product.


In the thriving billion-dollar market, fake branded goods are often passed off as genuine products in disguise of export surplus. They have the tags of popular brands, and it's difficult to actually tell the genuine from the imitation.


"Most of the goods in the so-called export surplus shops are fake. They are very well imitated and only an adept eye can tell the difference," Sanjiv Jain, CEO of G Plus-Franchise of brands like US Polo, Arrow and En Route, told IANS.


Aarti Mittal of Bloom, a multi-brand, high-end fashion store in Delhi, agrees.


She goes on to add that it's because of demand - both from the customers who may be fooled into believing that the products are genuine, and those who knowingly buy the fake product to show off the label - that the market is growing.


"The fake industry is a billion-dollar market. People who buy these (fake) products want the branded tag but are not ready to pay the actual price. Hence the market thrives," Mittal told IANS.


According to a study, the chunk of consumers, around 31 percent, of the fake branded market are students. The reasons are obvious. Living on a shoe-string budget and desperate to keep in tune with the latest trends, they are the most vulnerable of the lot.


"I recently bought a pair of shoes of a well-known brand for just Rs.500. The shopkeeper told me that since it was an export-surplus product, the price was a quarter of the original price! It was a real steal," gushed Arunima Sharma, a student.


Sharma's friend too bought a branded hand bag for a few hundreds, when the actual price could easily be around Rs.3,000.


Are they really sure that the products are genuine?


"The shopkeeper said it was genuine...and I really don't know the difference. In any case, it was a good deal, and we couldn't have afforded the original price," Sharma said.


According to experts, the prices of goods are slashed by as much as 40-45 percent in such shops, as compared to their original prices.


Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and other metros are among the hot spots where such shops thrive. The fake product market has led to a huge economic burden on manufacturers of original products.


Not surprisingly, most of those who run such stores selling branded goods at cheap prices, claim that they sell original products.


Akash Gill, whose store is in the busy Lajpat Nagar market of Delhi, sees scores of brand-hungry young customers every day.


"The goods that we get are factory rejects. A button missing, a stitch gone haywire, a slightly misshapen cut, or the brand's tag not aligned well on the collar - these are enough reason to reject a product," he said.


"The defects are mostly minor and my customers don't mind. Hence the prices are low, and the demand high," he added.


Brand managers, however, disagree, and maintain that they conduct raids on such "counterfeit" stores.


"Brands keep conducting raids, but in India it is difficult to take help from the authorities to completely stop them (counterfeiters). Until and unless strict action is taken against such stores selling fake products and duping the customer, the problem will persist," Jain said.


The only, and most effective, way to fight the counterfeiters, therefore, is by discouraging consumers.


"If a customer is looking for a genuine product, he or she should check with the store and make sure that the product has the correct brand tag, labels et al," Mittal said.


Jain said: "Quality of a product is very important, and more often than not you can make out the difference between a genuine and a fake one by the look and feel of the product. One can always cross check with the store to confirm."


(Azera Parveen Rahman can be contacted at


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