Counterfeiters are putting more and more effort into producing counterfeit items that look almost exactly like the original one. Therefore, it is becoming more and more difficult to protect your brand from counterfeit.
It is crucial that your brand protection strategy is holistic, covering multiple threats. The following steps may help you creating your own brand protection program, perfectly adapted to your specific needs.
- Start small
- Decide who will be the user of the authentication system
- Define what your major problem is
- Decide if the feature needs to be visible or invisible
- Decide if you will authenticate the product or its packaging
- Whatever solution you choose, always add your logo to your product
- Talk with the reference customers of your potential supplier
- Make sure your anti counterfeit supplier has the freedom to operate
- Make sure your anti counterfeiting effort does not indirectly result in a decreased profit
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 1: Start small
Based on our experience, companies that want to protect all their products at the same time take longer to implement a viable solution. This results in high-risk products not being protected while they could have been; had the scope been more restricted.
AlpVision’s advice is that you identify your highest-risk product and start the review of the available brand protection solutions with this product in mind. Later on, you can use the Pareto-law and preselect solutions that would be applicable to 80% of your products.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 2: Decide who will be the user of the authentication system
Very often, we see customers wanting to cover all possible use cases. Nevertheless, the challenges are different whether the App has to be deployed to the general public or only to a set of trained users. It is very important to define the scope before beginning the project to avoid some gold plating. The different users could be:
- Experts for internal use (shop inspections, …)
- Law enforcement (customs, …)
- Consumers (Self-check)
The decision regarding who will be the authentication system is very critical as it has a huge impact on the authentication feature, deployment strategy, operational cost, and effectiveness. Very often we have observed that a system deployed for internal or expert use is more effective and has much lower costs.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 3: Define what your major problem is
In some industries, counterfeit is the biggest issue; i.e. you need to quickly be able to know whether a product is genuine or not and you want a solution that makes it hard to replicate. In other industries, gray market is the bigger problem as you may loose even more money with genuine products that are not sold in the proper country. Therefore, you would like to make sure that the serial number is hard to remove.
AlpVision solutions are perfectly suited to solve gray market issues as well as standard counterfeit issues, whereas other solutions aren’t.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 4: Decide if the feature needs to be visible or invisible
The advantage of visible features is that your customer will be reassured since they can see the security feature. On the other hand, with a visible feature, counterfeiters know what they should target. Furthermore, if you choose a visible feature, you will be locked into it almost forever as your customers will get used to it. If the feature isn’t verifiable using software, then it will be counterfeited very easily.
Also, it is often difficult for user to verify the authenticity of visible authentication features through visual inspection. For instance, it is often difficult for users to distinguish real from fake holograms. This can be mitigated if the authentication is done via software as it could take advantage of AI to increase security as in AlpVision’s Secured QR code technology. The advantage of an invisible covert feature (such as Cryptoglyph or AlpVision Fingerprint) is that it is extremely secure.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 5: Decide if you will authenticate the product or its packaging
There is no good or bad answer here. Of course, authenticating both the product and its packaging would be the more secure. But we strongly advise you to start simple and shoot for a fast launch The advantage of authenticating the product itself is obvious; it removes the risk of refill. On the other hand, If you start by authenticating the packaging, the advantage is that authentication can be performed in shops without even buying or opening the product.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 6: whatever solution you choose always add your logo to your product
Your logo legally belongs to you. Therefore if it can be added directly into your product (for example molded in plastic caps, stamped on pills,…) it will make it illegal to copy it. This is already a first level of protection as there would be a higher risk for the counterfeiter to copy your product than the one of your competitors. Please note that incorporating it into the product makes it more efficient that simply putting it on a label.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 7: talk with the reference customers of your potential supplier
Most of your potential suppliers will tell you that they cannot give you the names of their customers. This is, of course, a respectable attitude as it protects customer privacy and hence increases the security of the overall brand protection strategy. Nevertheless, most of your counterparts will agree to talks with your team responsible for brand protection strategy. Indeed, even if the companies compete with you on the products they are selling, you share common interests to protect your industry.
At AlpVision, we may be able to put you in contact with reference customers at some point of the bidding process. Of course, this is best done as the procurement negotiations become advanced to better protect our current customers.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 8: Make sure your anti counterfeit feature supplier has the freedom to operate
Over the last few years, we have unfortunately seen some providers of brand protection solutions claiming to sell solutions for which they have no patents or, even worse, that infringe other patents. Selecting one of those suppliers can be problematic from a cost perspective as they could be discovered at some point, and would need to pay for the right to operate. This could result in an increase of your costs or a bankruptcy of the company, which would mean that your whole brand protection strategy would need to be re-thought.
How to protect your brand from counterfeits – Step 9: Make sure your anti counterfeiting effort does not indirectly result in a decreased profit
This would really be a shame if your efforts to protect your brand from counterfeit result in decrease profit. Below are 4 important points that you should have in mind while selecting the most appropriate strategy:
- Implementation may burden or decrease your manufacturing productivity.
Please note that all AlpVision anti counterfeiting solutions are thought to avoid this problem.
- Talking about counterfeiting may frighten your customers.
In that case you may want to opt for a solution that is solely reserved to experts (see Step 2).
- In case the anti-counterfeiting feature does not work as expected, you may be flooded with consumer requests wrongly suspecting they have a counterfeit, which at the end of the day costs you more than counterfeiting.
Selecting a feature which is easy to detect as well as starting small (Step 1) would help mitigate this point. AlpVision anti-counterfeit solutions can be easily detected with a smartphone
- In case you need special consumables, the cost of applying the feature will grow linearly with the volumes.
AlpVision solutions makes use of your standard consumables. Yearly license is a royalty to have to right to use the solution and therefore, even if it is indexed to the number of produced products, its cost won’t grow linearly.
Do you need more information on how to protect your brand from counterfeit? Please contact us.