The majority of shoppers will make purchasing decisions based on the brand name or logo on an item. Companies spend billions of dollars protecting and marketing their genuine brand image to ensure customers know that they are getting the real thing — not a counterfeit. Unfortunately, the counterfeit market is thriving thanks to improved copycat production techniques.
How Counterfeit Items Can Hurt Your Business
Aside from stealing your brand’s identity and therefore your revenue from customers, there are a number of ways counterfeit items can impede your business. In the last 20 years, counterfeit items caused the loss of 2.5 million jobs across the world. Whenever a counterfeit item is purchased (whether knowingly or unknowingly), one less authentic product is sold. Eventually, the decrease in authentic product purchases affects the business, resulting in layoff due to too much supply and too little demand.
At the moment, nearly 7% of the world’s trade is counterfeit goods. While it is usually global high-end fashion brands that have to be careful of counterfeit items, small business owners with a well-designed business logo and high-quality products or services will need to keep a watchful eye on their branding. Counterfeit items can cause purchasing confusion for customers. Even though they may have good intentions to seek out the authentic product, counterfeits have become increasingly similar in appearance to the real thing. An estimated 34% of consumers are certain that they have never purchased a counterfeit item before — but how accurate is this statement?
In order to be certain counterfeit items aren’t being purchased, there are a few ways to tell a genuine product from a fake.
How To Prevent Your Products From Being Illegally Duplicated
You may find it difficult to believe that there are people out there who would copy someone else’s business and call themselves entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, though, when money is involved, people are going to latch onto whatever is monetizable. While you can’t do anything about that, you can protect your brand in the following ways:
Branding all of your goods with your business logo or company name. Make sure that you design a logo that is unique to your company. You can make a logo with a free online logo maker or by enlisting in the help of a logo designer, just make sure that it does not too closely resemble someone else’s logo. Authentic branded items are one of the best ways to win loyal customers, and a business logo is the strongest indicator that your products are the real deal.
2. Legally protect your idea.
The more legal protection you can get for your business and/or products, the better off you’ll be. Patents — including provisional patents on ideas — are necessary. You also need to use non-disclosure agreements when you discuss details of your product with people (including employees).
A trademark can provide another layer of protection, as well. Should a legal issue arise in the future, your registered trademark can serve as concrete proof of an idea. It also provides a time stamp for when your idea first emerged.
3. Do something totally unique
Legal protection is fine, but there are ways around a patent. Some people will expose loopholes, while others will blatantly violate it and challenge you to enter into an expensive lawsuit. So, what’s even better than a patent is a totally unique idea that can’t be replicated.
Lithuanian entrepreneur Ausra Bankauskaite provides us with the perfect example. She designs jewellery that’s been featured in Vogue and other reputable design publications, but the thing about her jewellery is that it’s totally unique. The bracelet is made from recycled car parts and contains vials of gasoline, antifreeze, brake fluid, machine oil and transmission fluid. There’s no easy way to replicate that.
4. Confront and challenge copycats.
When you see a copycat emerge, confront that person or company immediately and directly. Don’t run to your lawyer, who might take three weeks to respond. Call the copycat company and speak with the people in charge. Let them know that, a) you don’t appreciate their copying your product; and, b) you will pursue whatever legal means necessary to shut them down. This won’t always make them walk away, but they’ll know whom they’re messing with.
5. Offer superior service.
Products are easily replaceable. Your little plastic widget could be manufactured with the same quality and precision in another warehouse as it is in yours. But there’s one thing that isn’t as easily replicated: quality customer service. Offer superior service to your customers and they’ll continue to trust you.
6. Build brand loyalty.
How nice would it be if you didn’t have to worry about copycats? In other words, what if copycats still existed, but they posed no real threat? This is possible, but you have to invest in a little something called brand loyalty. When you work hard to develop brand loyalty over many years, customers aren’t going to jump ship when they see a cheaper alternative from a copycat. They’re going to take all of the factors into account, and most will stick with your brand.
Focus on your own business.
It’s not the competition that kills most businesses — it’s the inability of some leaders to put on blinders and block out all of the outside noise. While you should confront and challenge copycats, don’t let them get inside your head. At some point, you have to forget about what’s going on around you and start focusing on your own business and products.