Explaining Counterfeit Alcohol Purchases in Russia
Background: Alcohol is a common target of counterfeiting in Russia. Counterfeit alcohol is defined here as the manufacture, distribution, unauthorized placement (forgery) of protected commodity trademarks, and infringement of the exclusive rights of the registered trademark holders of alcoholic beverages. It is often argued that the expansion of the counterfeit product market is due to the steady demand of economically disadvantaged people for low-priced goods. The situation becomes more complicated once deceptive and nondeceptive forms of counterfeiting are taken into account. This study aimed to identify markers of risky behavior associated with the purchase of counterfeit alcohol in Russia. Methods: The analysis relied on consumer self-reports of alcohol use and purchase collected nationwide by the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) in 2012 to 2014. I used a generalized linear mixed-model logistic regression to identify predictors of risky behavior by consumers who purchased counterfeit alcohol, either knowingly or unknowingly, during the 30 days preceding the survey. Results: Purchases of counterfeit alcohol declined slightly from 2012 to 2014, mainly due to a decrease in consumers mistakenly purchasing counterfeit products. Predictors of counterfeit alcohol purchases differed between consumers who knowingly and unknowingly purchased counterfeit products. Nondeceptive purchase of counterfeit alcohol was related primarily to an indifference to alcohol brands. Consumers with social networks that include drinkers of nonbeverage alcohol and producers of homemade alcohol were highly likely to consume counterfeit alcohol deliberately. Problem drinking was significantly associated with a higher risk of both deceptive and nondeceptive purchases of counterfeit alcohol. Poverty largely contributed to nondeceptive counterfeiting. Conclusions: The literature has overestimated the impact of low prices on counterfeit alcohol consumption. Problem drinking and membership in social networks of consumers of surrogate alcohol (i.e., nonbeverage) are more influential in explaining why people purchase counterfeit alcohol. Further research on these 2 factors is needed to more fully understand the purchase and consumption of counterfeit alcoholic beverages.