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17 July 2018

Consumer Alliance is Key to Counterfeit Protection

If you’ve been following us here at Certilogo you already know that counterfeit products are widespread, and that counterfeit sellers are getting better by the day at misleading consumers who want authentic products.

They’re so good at it, surveys regularly estimate that 1 in 4 consumers shopping for authentic brands online gets lured into buying a counterfeit unintentionally.

We hear from them when they buy a product that looks like Stone Island, Diesel or one of the other 85 brand partners using Certilogo to enhance their products with a digital authentication service. They visit certilogo.com for their complimentary online verification and are surprised to discover their “deal” is actually a cleverly disguised fake.

It happened to slightly more than 1 in 10 Certilogo users in 2017. And among those, nearly 70% reported being surprised to learn their item was a fake.

It’s a problem that’s likely to get worse until digital product authentication becomes the norm — and not just because e-commerce shops and social media give scammers direct access to consumer searching for authentic products.

The sad fact is that thieves running counterfeiting scams face very little risk of punishment, particularly when they can hide behind digital identities online. Combine that with the profits they stand to gain, and the only credible way to stop the scammers is by making it impossible for them to pass off imitation goods as the real thing.

A vocal new generation of brand and consumer advocates are doing their parts to help, each with a slightly different approach. Here are a few of our favorites:  

Fake Busters

Stopping scammers requires arming consumers with the knowledge they need to help themselves, and that starts with education. Fortunately, social media has allowed a new breed of consumer advocates to spot fakes and help others committed to buying authentic by sharing what they learn — sometimes with an edge.  

One of the most popular of these “name and shame” accounts is run by an LA medical student who got his start calling out fakes of the Yeezy Boost, the streetwear favorite that Kanye West designed for adidas. Today YeezyBusta has more than 750,000 followers on Instagram and half that many again on YouTube.

His large collection of videos feature YeezyBusta — wearing a face mask for anonymity — evaluating products from brands that don’t offer consumers a digital authentication service, and helping his audience understand why he deems each product to be real or fake.

Demand is clearly high. More younger consumers are turning to re-commerce platforms like eBay, Depop and Grailed to source desirable names in luxury and streetwear. There, they're forced to navigate through hundreds of listings for slyly disguised counterfeits in search of what they hope will be authentic finds.

Popular names with big counterfeit problems on these channels include Supreme and Louis Vuitton, so it’s no surprise that YeezyBusta and other unofficial experts are are expanding their repertoire to fill that demand.

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Becoming a Trusted Source

WIth consumers on the hunt for trustworthy vendors on secondary and reseller markets, a growing number of entrepreneurs are turning their brand knowledge into sales platforms of their own.

One example is the men’s fashion website The Hoxton Trend, which got its start offering authentication tutorials to Stone Island fans on YouTube. Trust earned in that channel helped the London-based team grow a popular streetwear shop on the peer-to-peer reseller site Depop. In time, followers asked so many enthusiastic questions that the team opened its own website and e-commerce shop complete with a popular “Ask Hox” feature.

Today followers send in questions about checking products for authenticity, buying advice, shopping tips, clothing information, and can even send photos of products suspected to be counterfeit to get help in determining their legitimacy.

Along with videos and blog content about fashion and trends in premium and luxury clothing, The Hoxton Trend’s YouTube team publishes regular episodes to its Fake vs Real series, drawing thousands of views. The episodes consumers on how to identify fakes, plus how to get the most out of digital authentication technologies like Certilogo.

An Official Voice for Brands

Unfortunately, not all of the self-styled experts on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are as credible as the ones mentioned here. Counterfeiters are nothing if not adaptable, and a new trend we’re seeing is individuals using social channels to build themselves up as “experts” … only to divert fans onto sites selling counterfeits.

This can only happen when a brand fails to offer consumers a definitive source of information about what is fake and what is real.

The booming demand for online advice about fakes shows that loyal consumers want to be active partners in their buying decisions. Giving them a single, consistent and credible source of information to recognize authentic items is one of the biggest benefits of enhancing products with a digital authentication technology.

Creating open lines of communication and information — backed up with a single source of digital “truth” that anyone with a smartphone or desktop can use — reinforces brand value and loyalty by removing any doubt about what is real and what is not.

And that’s good for everyone but the counterfeiters.  

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