How Data Helps to Beat Counterfeiting

Use Counterfeiting Data to Beat Counterfeiters at Their Own Game

With the presence of smartphones and the internet, opportunities to leverage counterfeiting data and analytics have emerged. This helps brand owners and law enforcement to detect, track and investigate potential sources of fake products more efficiently than ever before.

In the past, to detect suspicious activities, brand owners relied heavily on informants for intel and random spot checks to catch the perpetuators. It was a cat and mouse game.

With technological advancements however, companies can now adopt digital solutions to beat counterfeiters at their own game. The connection between counterfeiting data and physical goods may be a tough line to draw, but this post will aim to form the connection.

As a brand owner or exclusive distributor, one of the best ways to fight against counterfeiting is the ability to monitor your entire supply chain. By tracking their products from its production to consumers, brand owners will have a birds eye view, enabling them to find leaks in your supply chain.

To make this happen, 3 steps are needed:

  • Firstly, your physical products need to have a digital identity. This identity must be unique, just like a national identification number. Once you have a unique digital identity for each item, it can be incorporated into product label, packaging or directly onto the product itself.
  • Secondly, consumers and retailers need to be educated in terms of how to look for the unique ID. They must also be taught how to authenticate this unique digital identify
  • Lastly, consumers need to have incentives or reasons to authenticate the product’s identity.

The use of this unique product identity to track products will disrupt attempts to introduce fake goods and expose counterfeit locations. Because every product has an identity, identifying the source of the leak becomes easier.

Unique product identity codes can be incorporated seamlessly onto product packaging or applied as a security seal on products during production. Distributors, retailers and consumers are then informed to verify the unique identity codes with their smartphones.

This product authentication is important for distributors, retailers, and end consumers. Distributors and retailers will scan and authenticate the products to ensure that they receive the original goods for sales. Consumers will scan and authenticate the products to ensure that the product they are about to buy, or a product they have bought is genuine. Because the data of products and its locations are captured during the verification process, brand owners can then narrow down the exact location of where the counterfeiting took place.

Counterfeiters, in their attempt to copy the genuine products, will also need to scan the unique identity codes to reproduce them. Hence, their locations and data about the products that they are targeting will also be captured.

Analysing Counterfeiting Data

These data gives valuable insights for brand owners to analyse and act upon. The intel can also be used as evidence for enforcement to be carried out. By sharing this data with lawyers or police officers, investigations can be conducted on suspicious sites to weed out the counterfeiters.  

Below is the summary on the process:

The verification of each product’s ID is highly beneficial. On top of helping to deter counterfeiting and identify the potential sources of leaks, it also helps brands to gain insights on trends.

Company executives can then analyse and get insights from these trends regarding their consumer’s preferences. Insights pertaining to their best selling products in the retail market, and a heatmap of sales locations can be gathered. By studying these insights, companies can better allocate resources and become more agile to cater to any growing trends.

With this one simple move of providing a digital identity for physical products, brands can have a better way to track leaks in their supply chain. More importantly, the consumer engagement provided with the authentication can also help to drive business growth.

Below are some examples of screen shots on top scanned products:

Example on Heatmap on scan locations (Country)

Examples of product scan locations (Province/State). Street level information can also be captured.

Guankai

Guankai is a solution architect based in Singapore and the business development director of Nabcore Pte Ltd. He specializes in smart brand protection tracking solutions with 10 years of experience navigating the grey market in Asia. His focus is on designing interlocking smart applications for FMCG, industrial and automotive product and brand owners to prevent counterfeiting and enable post-purchase marketing engagement.

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