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Securing Your Supply Chain: A Necessity for Beauty Brands in the Counterfeit Era

In today’s globalised world, ensuring the integrity of your supply chain is critical for businesses in every sector. But for beauty brands, the stakes are even higher.

As we know, any successful industry will be a frequent target of counterfeiters. When it comes to beauty however, fake products don’t just damage the brand’s reputation – they can pose serious health risks to consumers.

As a beauty brand, securing your supply chain isn’t just a business strategy therefore: it’s a matter of consumer safety. Here’s what we recommend as you protect your brand worldwide.

A Chain of Trust

A successful and secure supply chain relies on building strong relationships with trusted suppliers. While this can take years to perfect, ensuring robust contracts, adherence to non-disclosure agreements, and mutual trust all go a long way in reducing the threat of counterfeit products entering your supply chain.

Distributors play a crucial role here too. In fact, their direct contact with your products often makes them the first line of defence against counterfeit goods. For maximum effectiveness, maintaining transparency and trust with your distributors is key. Their knowledge and expertise of your brand can lead to early detection of any illicit goods in circulation, so building a global, safe and secure chain of trust is paramount as you expand your brand.

The Power of IP

When it comes to protecting your business and supply chain, strong intellectual property is essential to success – especially for beauty brands.

In an industry where reputation is key, this means that your name and logo(s) – and even product shapes and brand colours (if applicable) – should be trademarked across all the territories where you trade, including, potentially, ‘hero’ products.

Beyond trademarks, copyright is also worth considering to ensure infringers don’t rip off your look and feel. As a generally automatic right, copyright is globally recognised and can be especially powerful. Beyond enforcing images or videos, beauty brands should take heed of (e.g.) fake packaging, which can infiltrate supply chains and dilute your brand’s distinctiveness.

Where the likes of designs and patents apply, they should be appropriately registered, bearing in mind that territories such as China operate on a first to file policy. For beauty brands, unique designs such as a perfume bottle or innovative nozzle can define your products – making them a valuable asset as you fight infringers.

And finally, while creams or perfumes may not fall under registrable IP, it goes without saying that trade secrets must be securely maintained across your supply chain as your beauty brand develops.  

Register with Customs

Another potent tool against counterfeiting is registering your IP with customs agencies in the territories where you distribute your products. These agencies act as your eyes and ears at the borders, spotting counterfeit products before they enter the market.

An example of this is the UK’s “Application for Action” system, where brands can sign up with the UK border force to track suspect imports and exports. Schemes like these operate worldwide and are a valuable tool in the fight against fakes – helping ensure infringements are seized and prevented from offline distribution in particular.

Secret Features and High-Tech Solutions

And finally, when it comes to securing your supply chain against fakes, consider how and what you manufacture. Where possible therefore, incorporating secret features into your products is an innovative way to combat low quality counterfeits and customer confusion.

At its most basic, these features could be as simple as incorporating (e.g.) microscopic dots or QR codes onto existing packaging. For beauty brands seeking higher-tech solutions, more expensive options such as holographic stickers may be worth the additional investment.

Likewise, tweaking aspects of the product and materials itself can also be effective in distinguishing genuine products from knockoffs. For premium brands, such markers of quality often prove more prohibitive for counterfeiters to replicate, while also helping customers appreciate the difference as they shop for your product.

Why it Matters

The Human Cost of Counterfeits

The importance of securing your supply chain cannot be overstated when considering the human cost of counterfeit beauty products. Fake cosmetics are often produced in unregulated, unsanitary, and contaminated environments, leading to harmful effects on users.

To illustrate the stark impact of poor quality cosmetics, from 2019 to 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received nearly 12,000 reports of adverse effects from cosmetics. What’s more, counterfeit products often contain low-cost substitutes and toxic substances, including but not limited to: lead, mercury, and a number of carcinogens.

Sadly, at its very worst, the consumer risks range from chemical burns and skin rashes to permanent scarring and even death.

If that weren’t enough, counterfeit beauty products are typically produced in exploitative, illegal conditions for workers, meaning that the human cost of counterfeits isn’t just limited to consumers – but the entire supply chain itself.

Damaging Your Brand

While genuine brands invest heavily in formulating and sourcing quality ingredients, which are safely tested and fit for consumer use, counterfeits do no such thing. Instead, they often bypass such standards in favour of an increased margin, allowing them to undercut the real thing.

The damage this causes cannot be understated, particularly in beauty. From covert animal testing (where testing does take place) to entirely unregulated products, dodgy counterfeits threaten the integrity of genuine beauty brands – whose reputation and financial success is needlessly damaged.

From a consumer perspective, this may lead to lost sales at best or legal action at worst – making brand protection more important than ever.

As we know, brands that proactively challenge and remove counterfeit goods often see a dramatic decrease in infringement against their brand. By concentrating on the most impacted territories and products, beauty brands can mitigate global threats strategically and economically.

Brand Protection Solution

As the saying goes, the best defence is a good offense. When it comes to brand protection therefore, proactive measures including a dedicated online brand protection strategy are key to ensuring a safe online marketplace for your brand.

For concerned beauty brands seeking a targeted solution, our Swoop software and team of experts at SnapDragon can quickly and effectively monitor and detect fake goods online. This includes ecommerce, social media, independent websites, paid search platforms, domains and more. Whatever or wherever your issue, we provide a tailored approach that identifies your biggest infringement threats.

In addition to this core monitoring service, where infringements are identified we can act on demand – reporting offenders to platforms, payment service providers, search engines and more. By acting swiftly, decisively and repeatedly, our persistence will limit the visibility and reach of counterfeit products, while dissuading repeat offenders from undercutting your revenues and threatening your customers.

Protect Yourself Today

Securing your supply chain is an absolute necessity for beauty brands. By fostering trust with suppliers, leveraging technology, and taking a proactive approach to defend against counterfeit products, brands can ensure the integrity of their products and safeguard the well-being of their consumers.

Remember, a secure supply chain is not just about business – it’s about people’s lives.


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