If your brand is struggling with a counterfeit problem, you’re not alone. For a market that’s valued at $460 billion globally, the counterfeit industry has morphed into a threat to far more than luxury brands and auto parts. Today more and more small and mid-size brands are suffering from lost profits, damaged reputations, and reduced brand loyalty as a result of the explosion in faked goods.
One thing all companies have in common is the need to address the counterfeit market. No longer can a brand stay quiet about their issue and try to stop fakes with online crawlers and the occasional legal battle in the courtroom. The creation and sale of fake goods has been increasing for decades, despite millions (if not billions) spent on litigation and take-downs.
It’s time to do more than just playing defense.
Brands Are Fighting Back
A recent study from online brand protection firm MarkMonitor shows that 86% of consumers want brands to take an active role in protecting them from buying fake products.
Armed with this knowledge, innovative brands small and large are filling out their comprehensive brand protection strategy with newer, proactive approaches to anti-counterfeiting based on educating their consumers to watch out for fakes and identify counterfeit sellers — an approach that has the added benefit of empowering consumers and building brand loyalty.
Here are a few of our favorite examples:
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.
Fashion brand Diesel, also no stranger to attacks by counterfeiters, decided to fight back by 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.
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.
Unfortunately, the market for counterfeit goods is still growing, according to executives at Barbour: “We have seen a growth in counterfeiting over the last four years.” In addition to traditional enforcement measures, Barbour has enlisted customers to report suspicious online vendors. 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.
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.
In fact, at a moment when everyone from Amazon to surging re-commerce platforms are embracing authenticity guarantees for consumers tired of being powerless against counterfeit brand lookalikes, more than 80 premium and luxury brands have signed on to bring the power straight to their consumers.
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.