1. How can Brand Protection Strategies help brands in terms of creating a differentiated brand identity?
The counterfeit/ infringement market is now the 10th largest economy in the world. Almost every physical branded product now has fakes and knockoffs, irrespective of geography, category or price point.
As a result, customers have become apprehensive of buying branded products for fear of being deceived. And yet, Brand Protection programs across organisations struggle to get management attention, budgets and manpower.
In this environment, a Brand has a unique opportunity to lead from the front. An active brand protection program with an integrated approach helps the Brand differentiate itself against competitors. The Brand will be positioned as going the extra mile to protect its customers. It will also ensure that the Brand itself is protected against immediate revenue loss and long term erosion of its equity, as customers are prevented from having an unpleasant product experience.
It is critical that Brand Protection strategies have an integrated approach. Many a Brand make the mistake of believing that a single initiative could be the silver bullet that eliminates all threats.
Some rely on deploying an anti-counterfeiting technology on their products and leaving it there, whilst forgetting that their value chain has to be educated and persuaded to verify products. Others believe that acting promptly on counterfeit incidents reported via customer complaints is enough to take care of the issue, not realizing that such complaints are too few to address all the counterfeit instances in the market.
What is needed is an integrated approach that focuses on enabling and persuading the value chain to verify genuine products, generate infringement leads at scale to identify infringement supply points and take enforcement action to take them down.
It becomes common knowledge in the market very quickly as to which Brands have a counterfeit problem and they suffer for it in lost revenue and reputation. A comprehensive brand protection strategy can directly change that perception by reducing the brand’s infringement instances and reclaiming their revenue and reputation.
2. What plays the more significant role in Brand’s Entity & Repute, its reach or trusted products?
Brands have traditionally focused on expanding their reach for higher revenue, market share and profits. The more markets they penetrate, the more distribution points they create, and the more product use occasions they capture, the more respected the Brand becomes and grows in repute. This of course assumes that the Brand is able to deliver a quality product experience and retain the customer’s loyalty. Case in point are brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Unilever and P&G brands, Shell and many more.
However, the greater the reach of the Brand, the more attractive it becomes as a target for counterfeiters and infringers. If a Brand has not given as much attention to Brand Protection as it has to market expansion, it leaves itself vulnerable to fake and knockoff products. They not only steal its hard earned revenue in the short-term, but significantly impact its reputation as the customers are deceived into buying these poor quality fakes and knockoffs.
Either this poor product experience drags down the brand’s hard-earned reputation for quality or the brand itself is seen as the one with the fake/knockoff problem and customers start steering clear of it. The net result is that the customer’s trust in the Brand is broken and the Brand may never recover from it.
There is no doubt that the Brand needs to invest in expanding its reach in order to further its reputation. However, in order for the Brand to extend the longevity of its reputation, it is as important if not more for the Brand to ensure that it protects itself against the threat of infringers so that the trust covenant with its customers is not broken.
3. What in your view is more important; Brand Awareness, Brand Loyalty or Digitization?
As we move into a more digital world, the points of engagement between the Brand and the customer are becoming more virtual even if the actual product might be a physical one. Digitization then becomes a crucial lever for the Brand to drive Brand Awareness and Brand Loyalty.
This is true not only for the direct interaction that the customer has with the brand – via social media or even traditional media which is becoming more and more interactive – but also in terms of how the brand takes its proposition to the customer. The internal processes of managing suppliers, channel partners, or even employees are gaining the benefit of digitization, making the brand more responsive to customer requirements and delivering better products and experiences to them faster and cheaper.
Digitisation is therefore crucial to deliver higher brand awareness and brand loyalty. However, the Brand Protection function has not benefited as yet from digitization. Most brand protection processes remain manual, with their inherent inefficiencies.
As a result, organisations struggle with all aspects of brand protection – whether it is capturing infringement leads at scale or managing them until their logical end, a successful enforcement action. Teams waste valuable time in clarifying important details of leads being reported to them, or in interactions with multiple agency partners in taking enforcement actions.
With emails and phone calls being preferred modes of communication, there is also no central repository of data making it impossible to do any major analysis or draw any strategic insights.
With the Chkfake Brand Protection platform, these woes are a thing of the past. Its end to end digitization streamlines existing processes, providing a level of scale, control and visibility as never before. Implementing the Chkfake platform can help the Brand mitigate its problem of fakes and knockoffs, thereby driving overall Brand loyalty.
4. What factors do you believe will shape the future of Securing Brands Across the Globe?
The Brand Protection industry is making rapid gains in terms of upgrading the range of products and services it offers. In the past, the focus of innovation was on developing anti-counterfeiting technology in the form of security features on products (overt, covert, forensic) which were progressively harder to copy. This perpetuated the myth that just slapping security features on the product ends up protecting the brand against fakes and lookalikes. This is now changing.
a. Digital verification: There is increasing choice of anti-counterfeiting technology which can be authenticated digitally. Not only does that make it easy for customers to verify, it creates a digital footprint of the program, generating valuable intelligence for the Brand.
b. Integration with other programs: With digital anti-counterfeiting technology, it is now possible to tightly bundle this with other programs such as track & trace, or customer loyalty programs. This makes it possible for the brand to kill several birds with one stone.
c. Process digitization: Anti-counterfeiting technology cannot work in isolation. It needs to dovetail with the brand’s enforcement program in order to enable effective brand protection. With innovation from companies like Chkfake which utilize the principles of digitization to offer an end to end platform which integrates with any anti-counterfeiting technology to capture an infringement lead and allows the brand to manage the lead to its logical end – a successful enforcement. This allows the organization to run an intelligent brand protection program, offering it scale, control and visibility across multiple geographies, products and stakeholders.
d. Online enforcement: A plethora of online enforcement organisations have come up to address the challenge of rapidly increasing brand infringement instances online. Currently small, this space is likely to grow with the growth of online retail.
The future of securing brands lies in investing in each aspect of these trends and develop a robust integrated brand protection program.
5. What is your company’s vision for 2021 and beyond?
Chkfake’s vision is to transform the brand protection industry by upgrading its core processes. While Brands are currently well served with many options available in various anti-counterfeiting technologies, or in many professional (and some not so professional) investigative and legal services, what they lack is an enabler that looks at the problem end to end. Chkfake intends to be that option – allowing brands to take data-driven decisions rather than relying on hunches and instincts.
Chkfake’s vision is to generate intelligence on all major instances of infringements rather than a few, thereby enabling the brand to prioritise their resources and focus on high-value infringers to take them down. Its end-to-end approach will free up brand protection specialists from the mundane tasks of data capture, retrieval and followups and allow them to focus on conducting more quality enforcement actions that have greater material impact.
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