Fake? In the Northern and Western Cape, that doesn’t bother township consumers

Business Insider SA
Counterfeit goods on display during a media briefi
Counterfeit goods on display. (Image: Getty)
  • A new report shows 40% and 38% South African in Northern and Western Cape townships respectively willingly buy counterfeit products.
  • Generally, South Africans will buy genuine goods, 70% said they wouldn't compromise on quality.
  • KwaZulu-Natal in particular is most averse to fake goods.
  • For more stories, go to

Most South Africans living in townships are willing to part ways with their money for genuine goods, but those in the Northern and Western Cape are particularly not bothered by counterfeit goods and will buy them knowingly, the latest South African Township Marketing Report has found.

The report found that 40% of South African township residents in the Northern Cape and 37.7% in the Western Cape willingly buy counterfeit goods.

The report, put together by digital agency Rogerwilco, market research company Survey54, and Marketing Mix Conferences quizzed over 1,000 respondents.

Nationwide, just fewer than a third or 29% of the participants also said they were willing to knowingly purchase counterfeit goods, despite the numbers being high for the Western and Northern Cape, Terry Murphy, publisher for Marketing Mix said.

The report found that despite depressed household income, most people are unwilling to compromise on the quality of their purchases.

Over 70% of the respondents across South African townships said they are unwilling to purchase counterfeit goods with KwaZulu-Natal the least tempted by fakes. Only 24.5% of the people polled in the province said they would be willing to spend money on counterfeits.

"This is despite depressed household incomes and confirms that there is a great social stigma associated with counterfeit goods… In these communities, brands are linked to social identity and standing, so admitting to buying fake goods would affect that," Murphy said.

While consumers in South African may be reluctant to admit to buying fakes, global data by the World Trademark Review shows that up to 84% of global counterfeit purchases are made unwittingly.

"Unsurprisingly, price is generally the key motivator for the intentional purchase of illegal goods, but the scarcity of genuine products can also play a role," the Township Marketing Report said.

The survey also found that higher earners were even less likely to purchase fake products. Only 19% of people earning an income above R11 000 said that they would buy counterfeit goods.

Semona Pillay, a marketing management lecturer at The University of Johannesburg said the overall unwillingness by South Africans to buy fake goods is not surprising.  

"South African consumers are aspirational, meaning that they have a desire to own the best, and would definitely not want to purchase counterfeit brands that denote poorer quality and have a social stigma associated with them," she said.

"This social stigma associated with counterfeit products is common among township communities because only a few consumers admitted to purchasing counterfeit products. This can be attributed to the fact that consumers shape their social identity on the products and brands they use and if they are found to own counterfeit products and brands, then they feel as if their social identity is compromised. Some even experience shame and embarrassment," Pillay said.

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