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Brand Monitoring

A distribution plan will help your customers know where to shop And help them avoid buying counterfeits A distribution plan will help your customers know where to shop And help them avoid buying counterfeits
Most marketing departments focus all their attention on talking about their product with consumers. They hopefully make the product irresistible to consumers. That’s their job. The job of the brand protection department is to help consumers avoid buying counterfeits which can damage their brand and reduce sales. It’s not often that the two groups are aligned. There is a place, however, where the two objectives can align and that’s when you’re talking to consumers about where to shop. The Marketing focus is to drive sales by creating many channels of distribution and the Brand Protection focus is to insure that those channels are not corrupted by counterfeit sellers and rogue websites. As we know, consumers are not depending on the Internet for their shopping needs. The Internet provides not only convenience, but selection, variety, and most importantly better prices. If you don’t talk to your consumers about where to shop, you run the risk that they’ll discover a counterfeit site that you don’t want them to. So how does Marketing and Brand Protection work together to protect their company, customers and products from counterfeiters? They do it by working together on creating a planned global distribution plan that includes the Internet. If you have brick and mortar sellers, you should define who and where those sellers should be. Don’t let a distributor define your channels of distribution. Clear points of sale make it easy for you to communicate, “authorized dealers” to your customers. Advertise those authorized dealers on your website and in advertisements. This not only pleases your retailers but also directs customers to shop where authentic products are sold. You should further insure the integrity of this channel by creating retailer agreements that define your distribution and marketing policy and prohibit transshipping. It should also clarify whether the retailer is authorized to sell on the Internet. For online retailers, the same rules apply. A retailer agreement can define the levels of service, customer care, and returns policy that would be expected by your customers for your brand and product. The agreement can also define your distribution policy regarding transshipping and shipping into other geographical locations. Remember, counterfeiters can use loose products to their advantage. If you use distributors, they should also be required to adhere to your distribution policy no mater where they are located. Once you have put your distribution controls in place, it is easy to then inform to your customers, exactly where they can shop and be confident that the products will be authentic. Of course, to maintain the integrity of this plan and to insure that your retailers and distributors are respecting your guidelines, you must monitor where your brand is being sold. Online brand protection is a key element in ensuring the integrity of your distribution policy.
Identifying Counterfeits – The Dark Side of Online Shopping Identifying Counterfeits – The Dark Side of Online Shopping

With the the seemingly never ending proliferation of counterfeit goods, what also is seemingly endless is the double life many of these counterfeiters live. Take the case of counterfeit investigator Flaming Lee. Her career was tasked in investigating counterfeit goods for Swiss-based power technology Giant Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. (ABB). At the same time Ms. Lee sold counterfeit Circuit Breakers on the black market.

The murky underworld of China's anti counterfeiting industry is for the most part a huge contradiction. Much like the story of Ms. Flaming Lee, the industry is rampant with fraud, according to an AP (Associated Press) investigation. Some of the cases identified by the AP included mission critical products that were a danger to those who bought them. This included counterfeit auto parts, plane parts, baby toys and other products people relied on in their everyday lives.

The fraud that is interlocked with the counterfeiting investigative process is not something too many within the industry will discuss. The AP investigative report included a variety of forms of unlawful activity. The ingredients for this report came from using previously undisclosed records from the Chinese authorities as well as internal company investigations and testimonies from those involved in a direct capacity with those wrongdoings.

Brands Need to Do More

The reason I started this article with the above story is to give you a clearer picture of the dangers of counterfeiting in the real world as well as online. Consumers need to protect themselves and sadly, many are in the dark.

Even with the aggressive anti-counterfeiting practices of online selling behemoths such as Alibaba and eBay, some consider them to be hotbeds of counterfeit goods and would opt for buying something from someone on a more personal network such as Craigslist.

Brands are also getting into the anti-counterfeiting act, with many providing guidelines on how to spot a genuine Luis Vuitton handbag or a Giorgio Armani wallet. This helps consumers, but unfortunately most consumers are unaware of these resources.

Brands need to do more to counter this threat to their brand. Counterfeits have a huge impact on the trust that people hold in a brand. One bad experience, even if unknown to the brand, can translate to a lessening of loyalty across the board and can contribute to churn, as more fans of a brand leave, than come on board.

In the end, when it comes down to it, consumers are really just seeking a place they can trust to buy products, especially when it is about purchasing designer and luxury products. When consumers get scammed on big ticket items, it does a lot of damage all around.

Verifying for Authenticity

So, as many brands are already doing, more brands need to adopt policies and measures that empower consumers to verify a brand's authenticity. So, in the case of sell and consign shops, consumers not only need to verify that their purchases are 100% mint, they also need to verify that they are authentic.

I feel that all sellers need to be held accountable and provide some type of certificate or money back guarantee to help consumers feel confident that what they are purchasing is the real thing. Brands that do this will provide their consumers peace of mind as well as help them avoid unnecessary stress, especially during the holiday season. Brands need to be transparent and provide as much education as possible, not only when it comes to the features of the product, but those features that define the product as authentic.

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