Before it’s Too Late!

The Top 10 Protection MUST Do's for Brand Owners

While there is a lot of clamor and hype about Brand Protection, Track & Trace, and Anti-Counterfeiting, it is important for a Brand Owner/Brand Manager to have a scientific and measured approach to the situation.
The manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods represent an organized attack on authorized manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
While manufacturers may perceive counterfeiting to be a low probability event, the introduction of counterfeit product into the supply chain carries high risk due to the potential threat to consumer safety and brand equity. Manufacturers, retailers, third-party partners, industry groups and government officials must work together to address this growing problem.
Retailers and manufacturers have an opportunity to collaborate on the development of a comprehensive and systematic solution, executed by all stakeholders, to actively quantify and monitor counterfeit activities.

This document provides guidance to the brand manager/owner on how to minimize the financial and reputation damage associated with the counterfeiting of genuine branded products, and to reduce the introduction of counterfeit goods into the global supply chain.
Below are a few steps that will help to create an effective road map for the brand:

1- Evaluate the Threat - Each Brand and each product has a unique situation. The threats can be any of the following:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Diversion across markets
  • Repackaging/Refilling
  • Supply Chain Leakages

2- Appreciate the Uniqueness of your problem - A Brand protection program for Liquor brands will surely not work in the Pharma industry. Technologies can be common but for sure, the comprehensive solution is unique for each industry. Only after you have completely evaluated the threat in 1 above can you start evaluating technologies.

3- Understand the Urgency - If possible try and quantify the following asap

  • Extent of loss of market share
  • Extent of loss of brand image.

In Many cases quantifying the first is possible but the second is quite difficult. It is therefore important to try and imagine the worst case scenario and try and put a value to that . The cost of a Brand Protection Exercise can then be correctly evaluated for a ROI.

4- Limit your Expectation - Brand protection is more about deterrence than prevention. In many countries, it is also not perceived as a “Crime”. In fact IP laws are so different all over the world that many states also turn a blind eye towards counterfeiting and hence enforcement is a real challenge.

Your goal as a brand manager cannot be to lock up criminals around the world. The goal is to disrupt the nature of the crime and frustrate the motivations of the perpetrators. Make the effort and reward for the counterfeiter more trouble than it’s worth for him.

5- Prevention is better than Cure - In a reactive mode , if you apply a strategy to a certain way of counterfeiting that has happened in the past, the counterfeiter would adapt very quickly and move on to the next one .It will then a an unending chase for you as he is surely smaller, more agile and more motivated . Applying a well thought out strategy in advance would act as a deterrent and keep you ahead of him and he trying to follow you and catch up . Keep him guessing.

6- Do a 360 Degree Check - Realize that the enemy is not only outside. In many cases the enemy is within. Could be a disgruntled employee, could be a distributor or a link in the supply chain could be a large organized syndicate or even a foreign government or your competitor trying to discredit you. Economic considerations, though paramount, are not the only drivers of the counterfeiter.

7- Have Multiple Levels of Protection - You need protection at two levels -

  • At Packaging Level
  • In the Supply Chain

At the packaging level looks at multiple options and features in Substrates, Printing techniques, inks and taggants, unique codes etc. A variable combination of Overt and Covert features makes the package more secure.

Supply chains are getting more and more complex and also outsourced. Having a good track and trace solution on the supply chain, being created and run by a third part different from the Logistics provider is usually a good way to secure the chain. Use the complexity to your advantage rather than a obstruction

8- Limit Access of Protection information - A Brand protection program is a multilayer lock on your product. The safest way is to keep information on a need to know basis only. Even the end user or customer needs to be advised only of the overt features that he/she can verify on the street but the covert and forensic features need to be closely guarded. The Supply chain solution need not be shared with the packaging security supplier and vice versa. Also bear in mind that too much information to the end user can confuse or scare him about the genuineness of the product and not risk buying even the good one.

9- Compliance is already pushing - In many industries including Pharma, Alcohol, cigarettes etc. State sponsored compliance is already pushing for similar solutions. IN many cases, the compliance budget can be tweaked slightly to include brand protection and thus getting a win win.

10- The Time for Action is NOW: A Brand’s Value is built on trust and is very difficult to measure. Consumers today are very aware of brands but are also very wary of Fraud as well as health risks. In most cases, if the brand owner does not apply a brand protection technique, the consumer feels that the brand owner himself does not value his brand enough to protect it. So Value your “Home” and Secure it well… It is like buying an Insurance policy. In many cases the cost is much lower than a tangible Insurance that you buy for your assets.

And remember, no Insurance company likes to pay a claim of theft on a house that was not even locked property.

*by Ranesh Bajaj - Director at Vinsak