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Only real-time action can protect a brand

Zachary Wolf, product marketing manager, anti-counterfeiting, at MarkMonitor, explains how to combat counterfeiters' evolving tactics.

The increase in online shopping provides significant opportunities for retailers. However, at the same time, it also provides a growth in opportunities for counterfeiters.

Today there are more channels than ever before by which fraudsters can target consumers with fake goods. These range from online marketplaces to social media platforms, making it extremely difficult for genuine brands to protect themselves effectively.

Enforcement

This problem is highlighted in a recent report, which found that almost one-quarter of all consumers have at some point unknowingly purchased counterfeit goods online. This is contributing towards the increase in the value of the global counterfeit market, which by 2022 is expected to reach US$2.3 trillion.

This influx of fraudulent activity means that brands can no longer afford to rest on their laurels when it comes to enforcement and takedowns. Instead of dealing with each issue when it arises, they must proactively monitor for any suspicious, incriminating behaviour across all platforms. In fact, their customers expect them to do this. The same report revealed that 85% of consumers believe brands should be doing more to protect them from buying counterfeit goods.

The thought of being caught out by counterfeiters will likely never even cross their mind of the well-intentioned consumer. Often it is only when they receive substandard goods that they realise they have been duped. When asked how they discovered the product was a fake, more than half (52%) said it was poor quality that gave it away.

However, even though they may recognise that they are the victim of counterfeiters, the experience could well damage their loyalty to the brand. In fact a surprising 71% of consumers said the experience had negatively affected their perceptions of the brand.

Therefore, it is in the utmost interest of all genuine brands to ensure that they can remove the most visible instances of brand infringement as quickly as possible, or else face the damaging consequences. By prioritising this — while also ensuring that all remaining visible sites on search engine results, online marketplaces and elsewhere are legitimate — brands can ensure they are protecting both themselves and their consumers.

However, it becomes difficult for brands to adopt a proactive stance if they are receiving irregular reports and updates that quickly become outdated. Receiving reports on a weekly or bi-weekly basis can often mean that by the time the threat has been identified, the damage is done.

The solution to proactively protecting against counterfeiting lies in monitoring and enforcing online activity in real time. By enabling brands to identify issues as soon as they arise and take the appropriate actions to eliminate the threat, they can protect both themselves and their customers from the negative repercussions caused by counterfeit activity.

Technology now allows companies to do this, typically using a dashboard. This gives instant updates and insights on how a brand is being represented online in a straightforward visual way. Using this dashboard, brands can more easily establish their own list of priorities for dealing with their problems efficiently and effectively.

Research shows that only 18% of shoppers have intentionally bought a counterfeit product, usually because of price. Therefore, if brands can remove any illegitimate routes to purchase as soon as they are made aware of them, they close down the opportunities for the majority of counterfeit purchases.

So, while counterfeiters might continue to evolve and change their tactics, companies with the most up to date brand protection systems can be hot on their heels – ready to act in real time.

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