Alibaba Founder Says Chinese Knockoffs Now Better Than The Brands They Impersonate

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba Group seems to want to have it both ways with low-cost knockoff products — simultaneously offering a popular portal for sellers of these lookalike items to reach the world and claiming to be actively cracking down on the sale of these same products. The company’s founder now says one the reasons it can’t just shut off this pipeline of too-similar brand-name apparel and tech products is that these China-made items are now just as good or better than the more expensive products they imitate.

“The problem is that the fake products today, they make better quality, better prices than the real products, the real names,” Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group told investors in China this morning, according to Bloomberg. “It’s not the fake products that destroy them, it’s the new business models.”

Ma’s statement meshes with previous reports that some counterfeiters were stepping up their game, making better quality products and selling them for higher prices.

Very few large tech and apparel companies have their own factories. Most outsource manufacturing and assembly to outside firms in China, and elsewhere, that sometimes turn around and make nearly identical products.

“The exact factories, the exact raw materials, but they do not use their names,” explained Ma, whose company does work with some bigger brands to provide more pro-active weeding out of knockoffs on Alibaba-owned sites like Taobao.

“We cannot solve the problem 100% because it’s fighting against human instinct,” said Ma, who is believed to be the wealthiest man in Asia. “But we can solve the problem better than any government, any organizations, any people in the world.”