The Smell Test

If you’ve ever owned a pair of Adadas shoes or worn a Rollex watch, you probably grasp the appeal of fake stuff.  The Chinese are well-known for their addiction to fake stuff, although no one is really sure why.  It might be simple economics (fake stuff is cheaper), or it could be the lack of effective laws to combat faking.  Whether to impress or save money – or both – fake stuff is big in China as well as the rest of the world.

The people who make fake stuff also grasp this, and they have parlayed that understanding into a $461 billion industry.  When it comes to shoes or handbags, it is a substantial economic threat that erodes innovation and dilutes brands.  When extended to pharmaceuticals or children’s toys, it can be dangerous.

The Internet hasn’t made this any simpler.  Start searching for a new camera online, and you will quickly find a wide range of prices for what seems to be the same model.  Closer inspection might show that some of the good deals are actually grey market items, which can have more shades than Christian’s ties but are typically legal (though unauthorized by the original manufacturer.)  Most serious photographers are smart enough to avoid the remarkably good deal on a Nikkon. (continue reading)

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