Regardless of whether you are a big or small brand owner, a key goal would be expanding your market share overseas to a country with a growing economy. One important consideration is to prevent revenue loss to counterfeiting.
To add to operating costs, it has been observed that once a business has expanded overseas, a growing trend is that local distributors seem to expect brand owners to provide support to prevent counterfeiting and illicit trade of the products they are distributing.
Below are some of the problems faced by brand owners due to fake goods:
It is frustrating to see successful brands succumb due to revenue/jobs losses from knock-offs when they venture overseas. It is even more painful to see fake products causing harm to people. Catching these counterfeiters is akin to fighting in guerrilla warfare – it is often hard to track or pin-point the offenders. To make things worse, with the advent of E-commerce, the issue of counterfeiting gets exacerbated.
Many companies still believe that the primary way of protecting their brand and products is only through trademarks/copyright registrations. While this approach is useful, it is a reactive response and is not optimized.
With this brand protection strategy, brand owners can take action only if there is a violation. On top of that, high costs are incurred to enforce such rights (E.g. conducting raids, conducting litigation). Because of that, brand owners tend to perceive brand protection as a non-tangible solution and a business cost with low returns on investment for them and at times even ignore having a brand protection strategy.
Alternatively, instead of being reactive, companies can choose to be proactive. The rise of smartphones means that product authentication, marketing campaigns, consumer engagements, supply chain visibility, and product trend analysis can be interwoven into a brand protection strategy. This makes it a more practical and appealing approach for companies.
7 Tips to Prevent Revenue Loss from Counterfeiting
Beside the common IP/trademark registrations, the following are some tips that companies can look into:
- Look for a brand protection solutions that offers BOTH high security and consumer engagement.
- Adopt solutions that allow for simple and fast authentication for your products & packaging (e.g. Mobile Verification).
- Enhance your brand value by making your packaging more appealing.
- Engage consumers with consumer engagement programs (e.g. Lucky draws/loyalty points) to encourage authentication of your products. At the same time, brands can drive awareness and upsell related products.
- Provide distributors with visibility of the supply chain through closed-loop feedback.
- Establish a system to capture data & insights of consumers that trend to drive business growth.
- Flag suspicious suppliers that are selling your products at a higher volume and lower price than your official distributors/partners to major marketplaces (e.g. Alibaba/eBay/Taobao).
With the use of physical authentication and digital verification methods such as encrypted QR codes, NFC/RFID and blockchain technology, brand owners can create great opportunities to position themselves ahead of their competitors. The sky is the limit for how creative brand owners want to be with their brand protection strategy.
There are many brand protection solutions in the market, and companies should take a step forward to start exploring these solutions especially if they are about to venture overseas.
A brand is one of the biggest assets that any company can have. Instead of thinking about the amount spent upfront for brand protection services, companies should look at the bigger picture, or risk suffering even greater losses from counterfeiting.