The Sunday Mail
Cresence Marjorie Chiremba
“True happiness is cheap enough, but how dear we pay for its counterfeit” – Hosea Ballou
Counterfeiting has become a serious global problem and some brands that are victims of this scourge seem to be struggling to prosper.
However, all is not bleak if governments, businesses and customers come together and fight this cancer as allies.
The end user should know that cheap is expensive because in the end, if it does not perform as expected, the customer will have nowhere to report and get compensated, but they will lose out on the money as well as on the product.
Here are some of the ways to take control and save legitimate businessmen from counterfeit drowning.
1) Track down the counterfeit
Organizations can install software that can monitor brands and detect fake versions. Artificial intelligence that can compare prices is also needed for this fight.
False advertising is used in counterfeit brands; thus, companies need to monitor promotion points as they are promoted outside of normal distribution channels. It is therefore important to trace the traffic to these platforms that sell counterfeit products.
These sites may be reported to the relevant authorities and taken down from internet platforms.
2) Government awareness campaigns
Governments can conduct awareness campaigns to educate customers about the dangers of using counterfeit products.
This is because when legitimate businesses lose sales, the government will also lose revenue in the form of taxes.
Thus, the government must partner with registered companies and carry out counterfeiting enforcement operations. They can even enact laws that make it a criminal offense to sell or possess counterfeit products.
3) Customer Education
If companies want to win the war against counterfeiting, they must include their customers as partners.
In addition to working with government on a broader scale, organizations can focus individually on educating their direct customers. It is essential for businesses to run campaigns that educate their target customers about the negative effects of buying and using counterfeit brands.
Educated customers are able to distinguish the fake from the original. If they buy the product from an authorized dealer if there is a problem, they can get a proper repair.
Companies can also set up toll-free lines that customers can use and act as whistleblowers to report any suspicious products on the market as well as those selling them.
They must also offer rewards to those who provide them with information on where counterfeit brands are manufactured and distributed.
4) Blockchain Solutions
The blockchain solution is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to modify, hack, or cheat the system.
This system helps customers get the true original quality of the brand they buy. Most companies that have suffered the effects of counterfeiting are now partnering with technology companies to improve the protection of their brands.
Some local artists have managed to put software on their music compact discs so that unauthorized people are not able to reproduce the music and sell it for a cheaper price.
5) Trademark registration
In order to protect a branded product, companies must register their trademark. In Zimbabwe, the brand can be strengthened by also registering with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).
For products to obtain a SAZ seal, they go through a rigorous quality control process, so they are perceived as original and of higher quality.
Customers should therefore be advised to purchase iso certified products or those with an SAZ seal as they would have followed all the necessary procedures.
6) Trade Secrets
It is said that a good cook does not reveal his secrets, so legitimate manufacturers must. Coca-cola is a company that has mastered the art of keeping trade secrets.
Although companies can register their brands and have international quality marks and certifications, they can also further protect these brands by not revealing all the information of their manufacturing or sales process. Instead, they have to keep information siled and restricted, so copycats won’t have a chance to copy.
*Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments, suggestions and training, she can be reached at [email protected] or on 0712 979 461, 0719 978 335