If there’s one thing the TikTok generation loves (besides lightly choreographed dances and elaborate reactions to certain McDonald’s milkshakes), it’s ducks. Dup, short for dupe, is a cheap alternative to high-end items. His 2.4 billion searches for the hashtag on TikTok range from Balenciaga sneakers to Charmin toilet paper. The fashion industry has been hit particularly hard by this trend, but the home sector has not escaped unscathed. On TikTok, his search for RH ducks returns over 13.2 million results. They range from Costco-branded Cloud sofa lookalikes to West Elm chandeliers that serve as alternatives to more expensive RH fixtures, but they all run under the ethos of “making it look cheaper.”
Of course, there is nothing new about imitations. What’s new is how easy it is to find them, and how people are sharing their findings openly. Whether you’re looking for that coveted Prada handbag or a copycat Eames chair, just search a few keywords and you’ll be presented with dozens of influencers who have done the job for you. And they not only did it, they are dizzying trying to tell you about it. Watch enough #dupe videos. Then you’ll find a sense of impudent pride around the dupe culture, which has a very different vibe from previous generations. . “When you look at the millennial generation, his Gen X, and their attitudes toward counterfeit goods, it’s a kind of decency to admit you don’t have the real thing,” said the expert, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Buffalo. Charles Lindsey says in consumer behavior. “Maybe they wanted social recognition that they were on trend, even if they couldn’t afford to spend money on something. Now that finding ducks has become a social currency, some consumers like to show how much money they have saved. They don’t seem to care if it’s a branded product.”
So why doesn’t Gen Z feel the same shame about counterfeits? The word “duck” itself may play a role. In one video, an influencer posted about fake Tazz slippers in his Uggs found on Amazon, declaring, “Not fake. Just fake!” This may seem like a semantic issue, but she’s not wrong. Legally, there are differences between the two of her. A counterfeit product is a product that imitates another product without actually infringing a trademark, whereas a counterfeit product falsely claims to be the product that it actually imitates. A counterfeit product may have a fake logo of a particular brand, while counterfeit products may only be similar in shape and aesthetics. Especially when it comes to home furnishings, it can be difficult to sue a company whose brand no longer sells its products. “The culture of counterfeiting has been very thriving for a long time, but generally counterfeiting is not illegal,” said Christopher Sprigman, a law professor at New York University.
There seems to be a perception that duck is harmless because it’s technically legal, but the president and CEO of New York-based furniture brand Heller is a non-professional advocate for camouflage. John Edelman, who is also on the board of the for-profit organization Be Original Americas, disputes this view. for the original design. “They don’t realize how bad it is [dupes] It hurts the people who are actually creating it,” Edelman says. “Our philosophy is that the imitations you buy kill the future of design. There is a design for everyone have to buy imitations. ”
Blu Dot founder and CEO John Christakos, who also serves on the board of Be Original Americas, attributes the problem to a lack of understanding of the craft. “I wish we could do a better job educating people on the real impact of their purchasing decisions,” he says. “All we have in Blu Dot is creativity and ideas. We’ve put a lot of time and money into crafting something you’ll enjoy hanging in your home for decades, and if someone can steal it with no repercussions and consumers stand by it. If there is, it affects artists and creators, and it’s not a small thing, but I don’t think people really understand that, and I don’t know how to get them to understand it.”
Lindsey believes that the root causes of duck culture are two: economic uncertainty and trust in influencers. Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession and came of age during the pandemic, but both experiences may have created a more financially cautious generation of consumers. While Gen Z’s spending habits in general are still evolving, a 2020 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that this demographic is opting for lower-priced items in categories of less personal importance to save money on purchases. It turns out that they are more willing to buy low-priced, low-quality, generic products. in the categories they are more interested in. Another aspect is that many Gen Z consumers genuinely trust the influencers they follow. Millions of young people are willing to believe when trusted creators say, “If you spend money on the same look, this is the better way to go.” Lindsay said it’s now not uncommon for brands to see sales spike within 24 hours after being approached by a prominent influencer.
There are essentially two avenues for brands concerned about ducks and wanting to take action, says Lindsey. It’s a carrot or a stick. In the apparel sector, lululemon recently tried the former, hosting a “Dupe Swap,” where shoppers could trade counterfeit leggings for the real thing at its Los Angeles store. “There’s this idea of, ‘Once you get the real thing, you’ll know the quality and what’s worth the money,'” says Lindsay. “And perhaps through such efforts, we could convert a certain percentage of our shoppers and earn some brand loyalty.”
The proverbial “whip” can be a little more complicated as it requires direct tracking of the people making the counterfeits. This is the approach taken by Blu Dot, which sets aside a dedicated budget for these efforts. “We have an undefeated record of people being very aggressive about copying our work and going after those people,” says Christakos. “Sometimes it feels like a game of whack-a-mole, but it’s a necessary evil. [otherwise] Those imitators will grow exponentially. If people understand that they can steal your property with no repercussions, they will continue to do so. Christakos said the company uses software to notify brands when furniture images are being used for sale on fraudulent sites, something that happens regularly. “There are literally people with the impudence to take pictures of us and put them on their sites,” he says.
For mass retailers that copy Blu Dot products a little more obliquely, Christakos will have the company’s lawyers contact management directly to bring the copy to their attention. Part of the problem is that for furniture, the design has to be truly unique to prove it’s a copy. For example, it’s nearly impossible to claim ownership of a Parsons table. “If it’s one of our designs and it’s really ours, we have to protect it,” he says.
Generation Z income is projected to surpass millennial income by 2031. So what does it take to get them to spend some of that cash on quality products? Perhaps ironically, given the rise of duck culture, it’s credibility that attracts zoomers. says Lindsay. “They are willing to spend money on brands, but brands need to be more transparent about their mission and values and work to build relationships with their audience,” said Lindsay. . “They can quickly see when a brand is trying to market itself in a way that isn’t authentic. They want a Main Street USA feel. They want to feel involved with the brand.”
Edelman hopes that the popularity of ducks is a passing trend and that Gen Z, who are notoriously climate-sensitive, will come to realize that fast furniture isn’t a sustainable option. “I wouldn’t use a plastic water bottle, but I would be buying a cheap knockoff that would fall apart. It doesn’t make sense,” says Edelman. “I think as they grow, they’ll reach a certain level of enlightenment. They’ll start to understand what quality and longevity entails.”
Homepage Image: Created by Midjourney