COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways, especially the way we purchase goods and being forced into online shopping. Whilst convenient in lockdown, sadly it has been accompanied by a surge in scams, not to mention a rise in counterfeit and fake products. No industry is immune to counterfeits and sadly, for the nursery industry, it brings extra risks. The pandemic has certainly disrupted authentic supply channels making it a perfect environment to produce and sell fake goods.
This ugly side of online shopping which has proven easy for counterfeiters to infiltrate is worrisome and makes the fight against unsafe counterfeit baby and toddler products more urgent than ever. According to a survey by Which? 31% of parents had been tricked into buying a fake baby carrier or sling using an online marketplace. Popular online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have programs to combat counterfeiters and remove illicit listings. However, bad eggs can get through the system if, for example, they are being sold via a third-party seller on Amazon which ships directly to a customer. The scale of the problem was highlighted by Amazon in May this year in their first brand protection report which outlined how in 2020 over 2 million counterfeit products sent to Amazon by sellers for fulfillment were seized and destroyed. The full report can be viewed here.
The Importance of Safety
It goes without saying that safety in baby products is crucial. Legitimate brands put their products through costly safety tests to ensure they are legal and cause no harm. Counterfeits do not follow regulations, cheap knock-offs are exactly that, cheap and dangerous. While a fake designer bag may not last the distance like a genuine item and can pose many risks, a counterfeit cot, baby carrier, or pacifier could be fatal.
In 2019 a report by CNN Business into fake and dangerous children’s products investigated the risks of buying on e-commerce sites when a copycat of the popular Doona, a 2 in 1 car seat and pram product was advertised on Amazon. The listing used images of the genuine Doona product, with a celebrity using an authentic product, it was also $200 cheaper than the real Doona, making it very misleading for consumers. After purchasing the product the crash test findings were shocking, with the copycat not passing basic safety tests and smashing into pieces. A warning to anyone buying nursery goods online to be on your guard and always do thorough research.
The Impact of Counterfeits
Counterfeits and copycats, without doubt, damage a brand’s reputation and cause immense customer confusion. By unknowingly buying a counterfeit, consumers are paying over the odds for an inferior product. Combine this with the blood, sweat, and tears that have been invested by businesses to create, market, and launch a baby product, to know your product is being counterfeited is devastating both personally and professionally. There is also the financial impact on brands with profits being lost as fakes divert genuine sales being made. Plus, there’s an economic impact with the government also losing out on unpaid taxes, and the costs they incur to stop counterfeits at the borders from entering a country and being released into the market.
3 Things You Can Do Now
If you are part of the baby and toddler industry you can’t afford to be complacent. In addition to having your intellectual property registered, here are our top tips to protect your baby product from counterfeits.
Monitor Online Marketplaces
By doing this yourself or using a brand protection company like SnapDragon (other companies also offer this service however we believe we are the friendliest), you can keep an eye on what’s happening and take action if needed.
Educate Your Customers
Use your website, newsletters, and social media to empower your customers so they know how to buy a genuine item. Let potential consumers know where you recommend buying from, and where they should avoid spending their money. If you know, point out obvious ways to spot a fake and likewise how they can tell a product is geniune.
Arm yourself with the protection offered by customs and borders in applicable countries. In the UK, HMRC, alongside Border Force, works to prevent counterfeits coming into Great Britain, rights holders can apply for an ‘Application for action’. There are also equivalent bodies in the EU, Canada, the USA, and across the world.