Protecting Your Brand in Online Marketplaces. Is it Possible?

3 Minute Read Time
Written by David Howell

New study shows that discount shoppers are more inclined to buy counterfeit merchandise.

Keep in mind that we are going to talk about the possibility of counterfeits within these marketplaces and not channel management.  I will go into channel management this week that will focus on Third Party sellers and selling outside the proper channel, and how to stop those activities.

I thought it appropriate to talk about a few key terms that I always encourage our manufacturers to protect against.  Would you like your brand or products associated with the terms like Cheap, Outlet, Discount, Wholesale and so on.  I have been speaking to this for many years.  Within the domain world, it is the first list of “aggravation terms” I actively search for and enforcement immediately.   I need everyone to know that you CAN diligently work to stop these activities, with a little work and the right team in place.

Below I wanted to share some insights from someone I have worked with and respect in the brand protection industry.

Let’s dive in:

As students return to school in August and September, many parents are shopping for back to school clothes. And let’s be realistic, most parents are looking for discounts and sales, (if they can find them), to buy the clothes their little ones will grow out of it — sometimes — as little as 6 months.  This is where the “Discount Shopping” comes into play.

In a recent article on Apparel.Edgl.ComElisa Cooper discusses the timely topic of retail brand infringement. She shared that one thing that experts found was that customers that use search terms like:

  • Discount,
  • Outlet,
  • Sale, and
  • Wholesale, etc.

…tend to eventually find their way to online marketplaces selling knock-off versions of the products they’re seeking. In many cases, these fakes are poor quality and some of them can even be dangerous for your children, because of the material the manufacturers use, the small pieces and the cheap zippers and hardware.

In his, “Thomas Dark Side,” videos, YouTuber LeoKimVideo takes a look at the worldwide phenomena of dangerous, fake Thomas the Tank Engine toys. When this video is about 10 minutes in, LeoKimVideo looks at some of the fake clothing and hats, meant to look like licensed Thomas merchandise. In Australia, he shares that these items are best sellers.

Discount Shopping Survey

MarkMonitor studied about 9 million shopping sessions over the course of eight months. They wanted to determine what motivated shopper searches.

They compared shoppers searching for “discountcheap or outlet,” terms with shoppers looking for “fake, counterfeit or replica,” terms. Then MarkMonitor looked to see if shoppers wound up on rogue sites or at stores selling legit products. The study found that:

  1. Most shoppers sought bargains and not fakes 28 to 1,
  2. 10% of deal seekers wound up on sites that sold fake merchandise, and
  3. 1 out of 6 shoppers couldn’t tell the difference between fake and legit merchandise

What Can Retailers Do?

Study conductors urge brands to seek damages for brand infringement because these public records will show in search results. According to Cooper:

“Brands that had not engaged in litigation attracted more clicks on rogue sites than brands that had litigated actively against counterfeiters. In other words, more bargain hunters visited rogue sites featuring brands that were not actively targeting counterfeiters in digital channels.”

Elisa Cooper also encourages retailers to, as do I:

  • Buy search terms like, “outlet and discount,” to direct bargain hunters to their site,
  • To actively monitor variations of their domain name, and
  • To buy dozens of variations of their domain name

However, if you want to protect your brand quickly and easily, contact me. I know exactly how to protect your brand both online and offline, and I’d love to help you maintain your brand integrity and give you a solid strategy to follow.

For more information about any type of intellectual property protection, contact me today.  If you need guidance or assistance in this area, please let me know.  Do not hesitate to reach out to me anytime.  As always, I look forward to answering questions and feedback regarding this topic and others posted.  I will be covering all aspects of Brand Protection Basics – a FREE source of advice and discussions.

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