New trends in young Europeans’ behaviour

photo: Wendy Wei,

The survey, from the European Observatory, aims to shed light on the latest trends in the use of legal and illegal online sources among Europeans aged 15 to 24, and their perceptions and behaviours towards counterfeit goods.

Results are presented today as part of the Pan European Awareness campaign for the World Anti-Counterfeiting Day.

The 2022 edition of the Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard, released today by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), provides an update on the behaviours of young people towards intellectual property infringement in a post-pandemic context.

The survey looks at the two sides of IP infringement: the trends in young people purchasing counterfeit goods and accessing pirated content, assessing trends since 2016.

Over half (52 %) of the youth surveyed had bought at least one fake product online over the past year, intentionally or by accident, and a third (33 %) had accessed illegal content online.

Reflecting the post-pandemic context, the new survey confirmed that 37 % of young people bought one or several fake products intentionally, which is a significant increase compared to the previous results (14 % in 2019). The figure varies notably by country, with the highest percentage being in Greece (62 %) and the lowest in Czechia (24 %).

The counterfeit products that young people most commonly buy intentionally are clothes and accessories (17 %), followed by footwear (14 %) electronic devices (13 %), and hygiene, cosmetics, personal care and perfumes (12 %).

But young people are also misled into buying fakes: unintentional purchase of fake products also stands at 37 %, and respondents acknowledged difficulties to distinguish genuine goods from counterfeits. 48 % had not bought such products or were unsure whether or not they had.

As regards digital content, access from legal sources is gaining ground among the younger generations. 60 % said that they had not used, played, downloaded or streamed content from illegal sources in the past year compared to 51 % in 2019, and 40 % in 2016, thus confirming the trend.

However, intentional piracy remains stable, with 21 % of young consumers (one in five) acknowledging they had knowingly accessed pirated content in the last 12 months. A significant proportion of young people were misled into accessing pirated content. 12 % accessed pirated content by accident, and 7 % do not know if they have. The main type of pirated content was films (61 %) and TV series (52 %), followed by music (36 %), using mainly dedicated websites, apps and social media channels.

In light of the new results, the Executive Director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, said:

This third edition of the IP and Youth Scoreboard, published during the European Year of Youth, confirms the trends identified in previous editions and offers richer insights into youngsters’ perceptions and attitudes. At a time when e-commerce and digital consumption have been significantly growing, the increase in the intentional and unintentional purchase of fake goods is a worrying trend. As for piracy, it does not go down, even if young consumers increasingly prefer content from legal sources. This new analysis provides a valuable tool to help stakeholders, policy makers as well as educators and civil society organisations shape awareness-raising initiatives to support the informed choices of our young citizens and consumers.

Key drivers behind buying fakes and accessing pirated content

While price and availability continue to be the main reasons for buying fake products and accessing pirated content intentionally, social influences, such as the behaviour of family, friends, or people they know, are gaining significant ground.

Other factors include not caring whether the product was a fake (or whether the content source was illegal), perceiving no difference between original and fake products, and the ease of finding or ordering fake products online. One in 10 respondents mentioned recommendations by influencers or famous people.


What makes young people think twice?

For both products and digital content, young people mentioned personal risks of cyber fraud and cyberthreats as important factors that would curb their behaviours. Also, a better understanding of the negative impact on the environment or on society are now more widely mentioned by the young people surveyed.

A survey conducted by the "IP Why Not" campaign shows that nearly 54% of young people (15-24 years) from Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia and Spain understand the effect of intellectual property rights infringement, and yet 80% of them state that it is easier to infringe than to use a legal source. 74% of them believe that plagiarism should be punished and over 60% of young people in the four countries say it is important that artists' copyrights are protected.

Full report and Infographics in English are available on EUIPO website.