Part 6 of the ABC’s of Brand Protection series by Authentix focusing on the global scope of the counterfeiting epidemic and how to take action against it to protect your brand, your customers and your revenue.
The ubiquity of publicly available digital, manufacturing, and printing technology has enabled criminal enterprises to produce convincing but dangerously inferior counterfeit products. Not only do these nefarious organizations damage the brand value of your legitimate products, they can create consumer mistrust, physically injure or even cause death. Those behind many counterfeit operations make millions in profit without regard to the investment you have made or the adverse effects on consumers.
To protect your company and your investment in high value products, brand owners must create a culture of risk assessment and leverage a security solution partner to monitor supply chains to detect, measure, act, and constantly refine the brand protection policy. This means not only developing the program and assigning responsibility to certain stakeholders in your organization but also selecting and working with a trusted security solution partner for risk assessment and deploying innovative technologies and overall program management. An experienced solution provider will not push a single technology platform, but instead offer a suite of technologies that include a digital cloud platform for data collection and insights to help build trend analysis, track ongoing targeting, and leverage resources for a more effective outcome. Creating this umbrella of protection that feeds digital insights that initiate action and remediation must be a part of the future for effective brand protection.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
While still in the early days of adoption, artificial intelligence (AI) is already being applied in some areas of brand protection. Using machine learning, for instance, computers can analyze and learn from large, complex datasets, recognizing patterns that reveal potential fraud or diversion. Packaging can be analyzed along with data compiled from sensors. Anomalies the human eye cannot see can be detected and exceptions can be flagged.
Data and Digital Platforms
It has been said that data is the oil in the engine of many business enterprises today. Despite this, only a few organizations effectively apply this to brand security. Over the next few years, this will change as many experienced security solution providers like Authentix, change the way data is collected and managed for the purpose of product and supply chain security.
Many companies have invested in supply chain and inventory management systems to collect data and optimize inventory management and manufacturing. However, the integration of brand security into this process is often overlooked. Thus, many brand owners use bespoke physical security mechanisms such as holograms, license keys, and UV inks to manually detect problems in the post manufactured distribution channels. Moreover, as data collection technology improves and is more available to consumers via the ever-present smartphone, more brands may be able to actually integrate the reciprocal interaction with consumers via smartphones and products to begin the awesome scope of data collection towards the point of sale. These days, more smartphones are capable of image and code collection at high resolution with native and downloaded applications for digital interaction with products and manufacturers.
Engaging with consumers via product interaction is not new. Certainly, many consumers have been scanning QR codes for years to gain more detailed product information, see other products in the lineup, and to take advantage of rewards and discounts. However, with many manufacturers, using this consumer interaction to authenticate legitimate from counterfeit or diverted products is tricky to say the least. Therefore, using multiple layers of digital collection capabilities and correlating the data over time is the best approach. This may include a digital collection increment by inside inspectors who are querying for a graphic security feature using a proprietary mobile application. This will immediately attest to UID level authentication and traceability or provenance. Alternatively, consumers may inquire directly via a QR or NFC basis. This would require no special mobile application but provide important geography, distribution, duplicate code, and transactional data that can help regarding distribution and transactional point of sale feedback, thereby securing the supply chain.
Right Data, Right Time
Having the right data at the right time will speed reaction times, enable faster diagnosis of issues, and deliver a more complete understanding of what specific corrective actions are needed and when. For instance, the DigiTrax™ digital platform is a cohesive data repository and dashboard interface that enables the collection, storage, and analysis of secure transactions to help companies make informed decisions on brand protection issues. DigiTrax™ is a secure, comprehensive, cloud-based, end-to-end platform designed to deliver a complete picture of your authentication and consumer interactive transactions and correlated results. It also is configurable to be customized to each client’s needs for detection, measurement, and targeting for unauthorized product placement and helps to form policy on corrective actions and investigations.
If the past is a prologue to the future, a tsunami of counterfeit goods continues to make its way into the global marketplace – from products such as luxury items, medicines, food, spirits, auto parts, and many more. The damage from illicit and fake products can cause nearly incalculable damages, including loss of human life, lack of consumer trust and the overall devaluation of your large brand investment.
So whether you choose to invest in the latest emerging single technology as a “one off” approach or you choose to select a fully integrated solution provider with a full technology suite – it is important to remember that ultimately, it is how you take action on the information retrieved from the security solution that ultimately determines how effective your product protection effort is. Risk will continue to grow as the arsenal of tools that criminals gain access to continues to expand. Stay ahead of the game and consult with a security solution provider who has the experience handling rapid deployment to help you migrate your organization to a digital platform as an ultimate component for brand enforcement strategy.
For more brand protection basics – why it is necessary, how it works, who is vulnerable, how to implement an effective program, what to look for in a technology partner, and which emerging technologies will make a difference in the future – download the eBook, The ABC’s of Brand Protection.