In this post, we explore smart brand protection solutions to prevent revenue loss through counterfeiting.
Even though COVID-19 has disrupted many businesses in 2020, the global counterfeit market is sadly still booming at the expense of companies and consumers. Counterfeiters are always seeking opportunities to make profits. They took advantage of the world-wide shortage of COVID-19 related products by producing and selling fake medical products such as masks, sanitizers, and test kits. They did all this while turning a blind eye towards the potentially deadly consequences of their actions.
The rise of COVID-19 related products only provided extra opportunities for counterfeiters to earn more as their fundamental business model revolves around counterfeiting other consumer and industrial products.
So what can brand owners who are already suffering from loss of business in COVID-19 do to prevent further losses of their rightful revenue to counterfeiters? They should turn to brand protection solutions.
Types of Smart Brand Protection Solutions
The success of smart brand protection solutions depend on 3 factors:
1. Effectiveness in Consumer engagement.
2. Securing distribution channels.
3. Preventing product duplication.
Brand owners can evaluate the suitability of various anti-counterfeiting technologies on their products based on the cost of incorporating these technologies. There is a wide selection of anti-counterfeiting solutions currently available in the market, and they can be broadly classified into 3 main categories: physical authentication, digital verification and new solutions.
The use of a security hologram is considered one of the oldest and most popular anti-counterfeiting solutions in the market. It’s appearance is attractive, overt, unique, and it helps provide consumers with a quick visual check prior to purchase.
The difficulty involved with replicating the sharp striking visual effects of a hologram on imitation products makes using this solution a good choice. However, for the solution to be effective, consumer education is needed – trained eyes are required to know how to authenticate the security features in a hologram. This lack of education contributes to one of the most common reasons as to why cheap and fake holograms are able to pass off as originals.
This solution is often used during the printing process on the packaging of a product itself. These security inks are usually hidden and a special device is required to view it. For example, UV light is needed to check and view a hidden colour print.
This brand protection solution is considered to be a covert feature as it is hidden from plain sight. It is also a good verification marker for enforcement personnel when they do their enforcement activities. The downside of this solution however, is that consumers will not be carrying the required special devices to authenticate the product. As such, security inks are not recommended to be used as a sole brand protection solution.
This is another common brand protection solution for physical authentication. Hidden images or words can be added to the artwork of a packaging and before it is sent to the printer for printing. Once printed, the packaging will have hidden images which can only be revealed by a special lens when it is placed over the packaging.
In some cases, micro/nano text is also added. The tiny prints can only be seen easily by using a magnifying glass. With the naked eye, they will look like a straight line. An example would be in the Singapore currency. In every note, there is a line of micro/nano text included. With a magnifying glass, the words “Monetary Authority of Singapore” can be observed.
SECURITY QR Codes
Since 2010, with the rise of smartphones, digital verification of products have become more possible with these camera-equipped phones. Today in 2020, most people in developed countries are carrying such a device.
Encrypted security QR codes are considered to be one of the most effective and economical solutions as compared to its peers like Radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC). QR codes allow for quick responses when verifying product information on any smartphone; regardless of whether it is an Android or iPhone. The user experience of scanning QR codes is well received by the masses, and this can be seen through the popularity of many applications that consumers use today, like payment apps for example.
A potential downside of QR codes is that it can be generated freely. This means that this technology would also easily available to counterfeiters. For a QR code solution to provide anti-counterfeiting functions, it has to be encrypted, unique and have the ability to provide tracking & tracing services for the products. These advanced functions provide anti-copy capabilities on these QR codes, further enhancing this solution’s efficacy when it comes to dealing with counterfeit products.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
NFC tags have also become feasible as an anti-counterfeiting solution due to the advent and rise of the smartphone.
Most Android phones have been able to read NFC tags since 2012. For Apple products, this functionality was only introduced in in 2017 with the release of iOS 11 where phone models iPhone 7 and beyond have the ability to read NFC tags through a third party application.
NFC works by generating a unique encrypted identity code for each tag. When a smartphone is placed near such a tag, the information from the tag and product can be read. This allows for verification of products. A potential downside to this solution is the cost. Incorporating NFC tags to products may be a hurdle for brand owners, especially if the volume of the product is huge.
Our current world is made up of a mixture of physical and digital spaces. As such, there is no single solution that can be hailed as the best anti-counterfeiting solution. Product counterfeiting will continue to grow over the coming years and finding a suitable brand protection solution is an excellent way to protect the revenue coming from a brand’s products. Consumers have also been observed to have increased interest in a product’s origin, in turn leading to increased accountability on company’s part.
At Nabcore, we believe that the best anti-counterfeiting solution is a hybrid solution that combines both physical authentication and digital verification technologies.
With multiple levels of interlocking hybrid solutions such as holograms with encrypted QR codes or tamper-proof NFC labels coupled with augmented reality, businesses can tackle the challenges arising from the constantly evolving landscape of counterfeiting threats.
We believe that brands should not settle for only one proprietary brand protection technology on their products when they can have several integrated interlocking proprietary technologies incorporated in an economical fashion. After all, if the Singapore currency can have more than twenty security features, brands should also take the necessary steps to protect their products.
Contrary to popular belief, the best brand protection solutions are not the most advanced technologies available on the market. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and the best brand protection solution varies from product to product and business to business. Finding the right solution that is interlocking, changes with time and addresses the specific issues of each individual product is the key to a future of winning against counterfeiting.