Beauty & the Beast

Fake beauty products turn holiday season sales into dark pantomime

With online and in-store sales of premium beauty products booming in the run up to the holiday season, how is consumer confidence affected by the surge in counterfeit beauty products?  A beastly surprise may be in store for unassuming shoppers on the look-out for last minute gifts and treats for the party season.


Boom or beast?


Beauty products are a 500 billion dollar a year industry, ranging from hair, skin and oral care to cosmetics, perfumes, soaps and gels, and sun care products. Which goods are affected and what should consumers look out for? According to an OECD report, perfumes and cosmetics appear in the top ten list of internationally-traded counterfeit products.


The consequences can be serious: reports of eye infections, allergic reactions, skin rashes, swollen lips and chemical burns are common. In worst cases, toxic ingredients can cause long-term health hazards.  A case of counterfeit perfumes in the UK highlighted the dangers of methanol, which is harmful to the eyes and the nervous system.


E-commerce and social media fuel rise in fakes


The growth of sales on e-commerce sites and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram puts consumers at even greater risk. An eye-opening survey by RedPoints on the cosmetics market reveals that:

69% of consumers are worried about counterfeits


And 19.5% of respondents had bought a fake cosmetic product online by mistake.


Consumer to brand owner: “Your job to remove online fakes”


The survey rings more alarm bells for brand owners as half of respondents think it is the brand owner’s responsibility to remove fake products from online sites.

While consumers themselves play a role in authenticating products, manufacturers can do a lot to help them. Packaging can be specially designed to help reduce the risks of tampering, substitution, theft and resale. Authentication seals and visible security features help indicate that the package and contents are genuine.

Don’t be deceived by appearances

With the increasing sophistication of counterfeiting techniques, there is an increasing need for designers and technologists to develop even more creative solutions to distinguish genuine products from frauds, incorporating unique and less obvious aspects of identification into the design of goods.