The creation and sale of fake fashion apparel and footwear has been increasing for decades, despite millions (if not billions) spent on litigation and take-downs to stop the sale of counterfeits. And it's not just famous labels at risk Even small and mid-sized brands are suffering from lost profits, damaged reputations, and reduced brand loyalty as a result of the explosion in faked goods.
The impact on consumers can be profound. One recent study from online brand protection firm MarkMonitor shows that 86% of shoppers want brands to take an active role in protecting them from fake products.
Brands Are Fighting Back
The result is an evolution of comprehensive brand protection strategies to include interactive digital technologies and a proactive approach that empowers loyal brand consumers to identify counterfeit sellers for themselves.
Here are three of our favourite examples with direct consumer involvement::
Lacoste has been fighting counterfeit attacks on their unique logo for decades. In one instance, surprise raids of wholesalers located in Puerto Rico collected fakes with an estimated retail value of more than $1 million. Hundreds of polo shirts, dress shirts, hats and other merchandise, that would have otherwise been sold were found and taken off the market.
Lacoste decided to fight back by enlisting customers’ help with a brand protection page on their website. This page serves to inform consumers about brand counterfeits and explain the efforts Lacoste has taken to protect the authenticity of its brand.
Executives at Barbour readily admit that the market for counterfeit goods is still growing, saying, “We have seen a growth in counterfeiting over the last four years.” So to strengthen the brand's traditional enforcement measures, Barbour has enlisted customers to report suspicious online vendors directly to the brand.
Customers can submit a link and express their concerns. This gives the company extra eyes looking out for fake products and gives the consumer a voice to stand against counterfeiting. In addition, Barbour offers a way for consumers to check to see if the vendor selling their goods is an authentic vendor or not.
Fashion brand Diesel, also no stranger to attacks by counterfeiters, took a bold new approach to fight back in 2018: engineering a publicity stunt that drew positive attention from social media audiences during New York Fashion Week (NYFW).
It replaced the logos on a collection of authentic products with a misspelled “Deisel” logo, set up shop in New York’s Chinatown district, and filmed interactions with visitors. The ruse was later revealed in a video send-up that was widely shared on social media, prompting fans to line up for a chance to purchase what had suddenly become — not cheap knock-offs — but an exclusive special collection selling at a hefty mark-up in hype-driven resale channels.
The bold message was made possible, in part, by Diesel’s long history of battling counterfeits using all possible measures. In addition to traditional litigation and online brand protection to identify rogue websites, Diesel guarantees the authenticity of its signature Diesel Denim products with a digital product authentication service.
Customers who scan a QR Code in the waistband find out in seconds if the product is fake or authentic, while data is returned to the brand for additional enforcement and consumer marketing. (You can see how it works by clicking here.)
The common denominator in these strategies is a willingness to admit that counterfeits exist and engage consumers with honest, actionable solutions.
Empowering consumers to protect themselves ultimately protects the brand. This is especially true when a brand offers a digital authentication solution that erases any doubt about a product’s authenticity.
Digital authentications allow consumers to stop guessing and return accurate, actionable data that uncovers fake, stolen and diverted products — in any sales channel, in any city or country, at any time.
Given the size and scope of global counterfeiting today, we’d say it’s a trend that will only grow.
The first step to confronting counterfeits is understanding the size of the problem. Download our ebook Global Counterfeiting by the Numbers for an in-depth look.