How Brand Marketers Can Tackle Counterfeits and Maintain Authenticity on Digital Channels

As the number of brands selling online grows, so too does the amount of fraudulent e-commerce activity. While there are many benefits to having multiple revenue channels, across retail partners and third-party marketplaces, there is also a downside: It’s harder to track counterfeit goods. And new data shows that just the fear of fake goods can have big repercussions for brands.

In a survey of 2,000 U.S. respondents, online brand protection solution Incopro found that only 24% of consumers reported to have been sold counterfeit problems. Yet 60% agreed with the statement “Consumers believe that fakes are a problem” and 71% said they were concerned about counterfeit goods feeding into criminal activity. This suggests that even without experiencing it first-hand, consumers are aware and alert about potential fraud.

“With online shopping at an all-time high, and consumers on the lookout for holiday deals, we wanted to run this survey to take the pulse of where brand authenticity stands with consumers today,” said Piers Barclay, chief strategy officer at Incopro. “Having worked with hundreds of leading consumer brands, we have seen the damage counterfeit goods and other scams can cause. We have also seen the speed at which bad actors, such as counterfeiters, impersonators, and copycats, react to new opportunities that arise as consumers move online.”

Incopro found that counterfeit product wasn’t the only source of damage to brand authenticity. More frequently, consumers reported coming across fake social media accounts (35%), fake social ads or posts (36%), and fake websites (41%). These can be much easier and cheaper to copy than physical product, while still having a dangerous impact on brand trust; 61% said a fake website would cause them to doubt or avoid a brand in future.

Implementing a comprehensive counterfeit policy can be expensive and time-consuming, but brands can quickly implement a few strategies to improve the authenticity of their internet presence. By establishing a robust, trustworthy digital identity, brands can help counter the distrust growing among consumers, as a result of fraud.

Online fraud has increased during 2020, as e-commerce purchases have increased.

“Marketers are responsible for consumer engagement and how consumers perceive their brands across every conceivable touchpoint,” said Barclay. “If more marketers become accountable for monitoring and stopping the threats to their brands’ authenticity, we will see them deliver a truly outstanding experience.”

Incopro recommends that marketers go through all the brand’s online content to make sure all material is up-to-date and relevant. When consumers come across old and outdated content, 64% said it would lead them to doubt the authenticity of that brand. By keeping all communications fresh and current, marketers can reassure shoppers that they are connecting with the brand itself.

There should also be a concerted effort to look for fake content that might be online, masquerading as authentic brand materials. The survey found that 69% of consumers believe it is the brand’s responsibility to protect them from fake product, while 71% believe that brands could be doing more to protect them from phishing and impersonation attacks.

“Viewing this reality from an audience’s perspective enables you to witness first-hand the problems created,” said the report. “It also enables you to begin addressing them earlier, to act as the customers’ champion guiding partners in the correct use of your brand – or detecting and removing the fake. Do that and you’re better able to extend your brand promise across every conceivable touchpoint.”

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