Trickery is trending this holiday season – at least for online criminals. Forty-five percent of shoppers worry about unintentionally buying imitation goods over the winter holiday, according to the latest research from MarkMonitor.

Despite the fact that 91 per cent said they wouldn’t knowingly buy a counterfeit product as a Christmas present, nearly one in three say they have been duped into buying a fake product. This figure is up 35 per cent from similar MarkMonitor research in 2016 that found 23 per cent of consumers had unintentionally bought a fake product. Of the shoppers who unwittingly bought a fake, just over a third said they had done so two to three times. Another 11 per cent said it had happened between three and five times, while 5 per cent stated that it had happened more than five times. In addition, half of shoppers said these fake products had been bought as holiday gifts.

“It’s that time of year once again when consumers are on the hunt for the best gifts,” says Chrissie Jamieson, vice president of marketing at MarkMonitor, a brand of Clarivate Analytics. “As savvy shoppers, they use the Internet to search for bargains. Unfortunately, this opens them up to a lot of risk from counterfeiters, who use the same channels to sell their products and dupe shoppers. The problem is escalating with the addition of new social media platforms and apps, all of which can be used by counterfeiters.”

Shoppers were most confident in their online safety when it came to purchasing via online marketplaces (86 per cent), links in search results (67 per cent) and smartphone apps (56 per cent). However, the first two were also identified as channels through which fake goods were purchased — with online marketplaces at 42 per cent, links in search results at 15 per cent and social media at 10 per cent.

“Research shows that shoppers are conscious of the counterfeiting threat, and some have even fallen victim to it — on more than one occasion,” Jamieson says. “What is also telling is that, increasingly, consumers believe that brands need to do more to protect them from the presence of fake goods on the Internet. The impact on shoppers is significant as they lose money, are inconvenienced and could even be subjected to health risks. For brands, there is reputational damage, loss of revenue and customer trust to consider. All of these issues reinforce the point that while consumers should be more vigilant when shopping online, businesses must do all they can to protect themselves and their customers.”

The research was commissioned by MarkMonitor and conducted by independent survey company Vitreous World. A sample of 3,455 adults from nine countries were surveyed, including the UK, US, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Interviews were conducted online in November of 2017.