Fake goods for sale have been an issue for brands pretty much for as long as any brand carves out any sort of decent reputation for itself.
In the good old days though (let’s say, for the purposes of this example, 1983), your mum would take you down Walthamstow market and buy a Sergio Tacchini tracksuit for £8 as opposed to the £80 it might have cost in a sports shop. You knew it was moody, your mum knew it was moody (but there was no way she would be spending £80 on a tracksuit when you’ll grow out of it 6 months) and it was only a matter of time before some of the kids at school would suspect that the new sporting attire you were, erm, sporting was probably somewhat on the snide side – perhaps because Sergio was spelt Sergoi on the label or something.
Fast forward a decade or two and brands are slowly but surely turning to the internet to win new business (some more slowly, others more surely). But one group who have always been ahead of the game are the counterfeiters. They took to the internet like a duck to water. Not just the fake Viagra email scammers, with the promise of anonymity and hefty discounts for a prescription only drug, but the sellers of luxury brand name goods. Although there were no doubt a certain proportion of items that genuinely were “real” and available at 70% discount due to a distributor going into liquidation, there was a lot of fake stuff too. I remember an old girlfriend of mine confidently announcing she had bought genuine Uggs and Chanel sunglasses “and they are brand new” from Ebay, but not thinking it slightly odd that they were shipped from China. To be fair, in this case they were very well made fakes, but I would stake my life on it that they were not the genuine article.
Anyway, you might be wondering what the reason for my blog is and why I’m banging on about the rise of the internet Del Boys. Well, I have just read a very good report in Marketing Week that has stated the brands are losing a staggering £10 BILLION annually in the UK alone through the online counterfeit industry. That is a huge loss of business in anyone’s eyes, no matter how widely dissipated it is. Social networks are the biggest cause of consumer complaints and the resellers are using links and paid for-advertising space on Facebook and Twitter along with the brands’ photographs, logos and trademarked words.
2014 could see a big rise in the number of staff working in Brand Protection departments across the country as brand owners try to stem the flow of business being lost to fraudsters.