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'They've lost interest': Alibaba exec claims Chinese counterfeit market is sputtering

Gao Hongbing, an Alibaba Group vice president and director of AliResearch, discusses the Chinese consumer at the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" meeting in Dalian, China.
Everett Rosenfeld | CNBC
Gao Hongbing, an Alibaba Group vice president and director of AliResearch, discusses the Chinese consumer at the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" meeting in Dalian, China.

DALIAN, China — The Chinese market for counterfeits is petering out as consumers grow more choosy about quality and brand-names, a top Alibaba executive said Wednesday.

Gao Hongbing, an Alibaba Group vice president and director of research arm AliResearch, offered some predictions on the fate of counterfeits in response to a question from CNBC at the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" meeting in Dalian, China. Knock-offs have long been a staple of China's consumer economy, and Alibaba has been repeatedly called out for what critics characterized as lax enforcement against such items.

Emphasizing efforts to combat counterfeits' proliferation, Gao acknowledged that "there are some fake and counterfeit products sold online — there's no way to avoid that."

Still, he said, today's consumers in China have become increasingly "aware" of quality consumption — meaning that they are preferring to spend their money on genuine articles.

"I think they've lost interest," Gao said of the mainstream Chinese consumer's attraction to knock-offs. "Therefore they like more high-quality and genuine products."

The Alibaba executive added that young consumers are even more attuned to products' quality and branding. Therefore, he predicted, China's "quality consumption" will eventually be elevated to the top spot globally.

See more of CNBC's World Economic Forum "Summer Davos" coverage here.