While children everywhere have already started counting down the days till Christmas, for retailers, bargain-hunting consumers and, yes, counterfeiters it’s not the 25th December which is on their minds but the 23rd November – Black Friday.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a pair of day-long sales events which bookend the American public holiday for Thanksgiving, but they’ve become an international phenomenon too. For physical retailers as well as online shops these two events have become prime moments to slash prices in a bid to get shoppers to spend more in the run-up to Christmas. In recent years it’s been an effective tactic too, with near riots happening over everything from cut-price computers to discount DVDs.
Even in the USA, where the tradition of heavily discounting stock on Thanksgiving weekend originated, the number of in-store shoppers has grown rapidly. In 2014 there were a reported 87 million people who shopped on Black Friday, while by 2017 the number had grown to approximately 100 million – spending an enormous $7.9 billion. In the UK, despite the trend for these sales only beginning after 2010, the growth of sales incentives from retailers has also driven shoppers to the streets in large numbers. One consumer report from 2017 found that only one in ten shoppers planned to avoid Black Friday (and this may have been age-driven).
What is especially clear in all territories, however, is that the growth market for this weekend is not physical shops but eCommerce. Whether they are shopping on traditional websites or on mobile devices, increasingly, consumers are either checking online prices before they shop in person, or simply making their purchases online. In the same 2017 UK survey, 40% of people said they would purchase via their computers, while only 20% were committed to store visits. Similarly, in the US, overall store sales went down marginally between 2016 and 2017, while online sales rose by 18%. As a result, protecting your intellectual property rights online is more crucial now than ever.
Christmas, Cash And Counterfeits
With Christmas on the horizon and gifts to buy, people spend. The mood for shopping starts to grow and the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend is designed to feed this. For many businesses this is a chance to make money, while for many consumers it’s a chance to save some.
For counterfeiters, however, this is also another moment where it’s possible to create confusion and to take advantage of the active market to dupe buyers. With significant online discounts being offered by brands who would not customarily lower their prices to such a level, the presence of extremely low price points on genuine goods can become legitimising for customers who see a low price on one genuine website and then are unaware that a similarly low price somewhere else is for fake products.
Although many shoppers do deliberately choose to seek out counterfeit goods, for many others the process of shopping online can be confusing, and the lowering of prices can result in unwise purchases from disreputable websites and marketplaces. What’s our advice for businesses looking to protect themselves and their customers during this period of festive discounting?
1. Scan For Cyber Impersonators – In order to appear authentic, counterfeiters may purchase domain names very similar to your genuine one. Alternatively they may set up websites with keywords and content which steal your designs, trade marks and copyright in a way that replicates your genuine site. Are you regularly scanning and effecting removals of these websites so your customers don’t find them? At Pointer we proactively monitor websites and marketplaces daily in order to protect the IP of our clients.
2. The Three E’s; Education, Education, Education – Have you done enough with your own website to provide anti-counterfeiting information to the public? If you haven’t then why not encourage consumers to send you questionable websites and listings direct to an email address where they can be given to our analysts who will review, report and remove all fake listings whenever it’s necessary.
Marketplace Piggybacking – Many consumers are fooled into buying counterfeit goods because the global presence of a company such as Amazon or eBay appears to guarantee authenticity. The sheer number of listings on those marketplaces means that some counterfeit goods will be found for sale there and that the website owners themselves are unlikely to remove them without being asked. If you want to protect your customers from buying illegitimate goods from apparently legitimate traders then speak to Pointer who can offer marketplace monitoring and proven removal results.