The International Trademark Association (INTA) and International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy commissioned a report on the global economic value of counterfeited and pirated goods. While the numbers were staggering, the predictions are downright scary: by 2022, that value of counterfeit goods could reach $2.8 trillion. As a result, many organizations are looking to increase their anti-counterfeit measures, rather than being lumped in with the trillions in lost revenue.
Governments and eCommerce organizations are taking steps to fight counterfeit sellers, focusing on the source of where many counterfeit goods are sold. But with the unregulated nature of the internet, counterfeiting websites and social media sites has become easier. Additionally, copycat websites or mobile apps can be built in a few hours—and mobile, in particular, is a difficult channel to watch.
The state of play in online counterfeiting means that no brand can afford to underestimate the sophistication of the fraudsters now exploiting the digital world. While counterfeiters have proven their skill at adapting their tactics to exploit the online environment, there are ways you can combat them.
Fighting the fakes
Consumers buy fake goods for all different reasons. Some long for luxury goods they cannot afford, while others purchase fake creams and cosmetics without ever considering the risks.
The internet not only allows consumers to buy products from the comfort of their home, but also makes it easy to compare prices for the exact same product. With this insight, counterfeit sellers know how to bait shoppers through the clever use of search engine optimization, by ranking on “cheap [BRAND NAME] bags” for example, and selling fake goods. Just type in any highly recognizable or popular brand name paired with the word “cheap” in a search engine and you’ll instantly find at least one site that sells counterfeit goods.
But with so many consumers also unwittingly buying fake products online, brand reputations are being tarnished by counterfeiters. These bad actors can monetize a brand’s global prestige or force product recalls and liability claims by infiltrating supply chains. But apart from the economic consequences counterfeit goods have on a brand, there is a real risk for consumers: counterfeit items do not go through the rigorous health, safety, and compliance testing that legitimate products undergo.
This serious, dangerous risk to consumers―as well as liability to the companies selling products― meany that fighting counterfeiting is every brand’s responsibility. Considering the internet is constantly evolving, it’s crucial for brand owners to review their online strategy carefully as well as the “10 Steps to Tackling Online Counterfeiting,” best practices guide.
Ask your current provider to help you develop or update your strategy by assessing the size of the issue for your brand and identifying which channels to monitor. Your provider should be offering enforcement options and supporting documentation. By developing a proactive and effective anti-counterfeiting strategy, you can safeguard customer confidence, brand equity, sales, and revenue.