There’s 100 days to go to Christmas but for many brands who flourish during the festive period the plans are already in full swing. For toy-related businesses including manufacturers, franchisers, and licensing specialists, the run up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year, and it’s also the time that they’re most at risk from counterfeiters. To mark the beginning of e-commerce’s busy period, we’ve investigated how this year’s most popular toy brands are already being targeted by fakes. Unfortunately for those selling in the Christmas toy market, being the most wanted also means potentially ending up as the most counterfeited.
Christmas and the Counterfeiting Problem
The names of the toys may change but every year the same problem emerges; either the most-wanted items sell out and a lack of availability drives shoppers to find alternatives, or cheap online listings prove too tempting for those consumers who are unconcerned about buying counterfeits.
In 2018 there were fake L.O.L Surprise! dolls, while the previous year there had also been large seizures of Fingerlings and squishies. The same pattern can be seen every Christmas. Of course, it’s not just the hottest toys that are targeted but also the perennial favorites such as film and computer game-branded goods, sportswear, clothing, footwear, and games consoles too.
The biggest problem for brands in this space is the loss of revenue from these cheap imitations (£400 million in the UK in 2017), but there is also an associated damage to their reputations. This is particularly worrying when the counterfeit toys are found to be hazardous to the health of children. Although many consumers will be aware that fakes are not the fault of the official company, they will still demand action.
In 2018 the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) estimated that 10-12% of toys sold in 2017 were fake, and that an increasing number of them either contained excessive levels of toxic chemicals, were packaged in unsafe ways, or posed a choking hazard. One of the many reasons that counterfeits are cheaper than legitimate toys is that they do not have to comply with stringent and costly safety checks.
Following a seizure of 2,000 counterfeit squishies in 2018, Wolverhampton Trading Standards’ Paul Dosnargh commented on the quality of the confiscated items: “They could cause discomfort, and, at the very worst, they could cause asphyxiation and death.”
If they want to reduce financial damage and protect consumers, it’s imperative that toy brands monitor the online marketplaces effectively in the run up to Christmas. We’ve looked at a number of the most popular toys for Christmas 2019 and found that they are already generating a huge amount of counterfeit listings across all their products, not just those listed for Christmas. Below is a selection of some of the toy brands we see as most exposed to the risk of counterfeits this year.
Is yours among them?
At Pointer, we lead the industry in providing monitoring, takedown, and investigation services for businesses of all sizes. Our dedicated software scans over 600 online marketplaces and domains daily to provide global coverage, and our brand protection analysts liaise constantly with online platforms to target counterfeiters. No matter what the size of your business or your problem, speak with us today to find out how we can help you and your customers.
The Fortnite Battle Bus
Already predicted to be one of the most in-demand toys for 2019, the Fortnite Battle Bus is generating publicity for the gaming giant across the world.
While we’re yet to see large numbers of the bus itself, counterfeit-heavy platforms including the Indonesian outpost of the Lazada group have become increasingly populated by Fortnite-branded merchandise, and there are now over 5,000 listings on Lazada.co.id with the search term “Fortnite.”
Our research indicates that on the first page of the site, potentially counterfeit Fortnite clothing, toys, bags, and accessories make up 65% of the total listings. Assuming that these sellers can offer just 5 units each, this could mean a total of 16,627 fake products on this site alone.
For more on e-sports and Fortnite, please see our previous report.
Pets Alive Robotic Llama
Along with unicorns, llamas have recently become a much-prized item in the hearts of youngsters everywhere. This year may see big sales for Boppi the “Booty Shakin’” llama from the Chinese manufacturer Zuru.
While the twerking toy may be officially manufactured in China, there are already listings on Alibaba for unofficial companies who are willing to produce upwards of 1,000 items using the same designs but with “customized packaging,” which may or may not feature the IP of the official maker.
With genuine llamas retailing for £25, the counterfeits from this one seller could end costing the company as much £25,000 – can any business afford to take such a hit?
Peppa Pig Christmas Playset
She’s worth over $1 billion and her cartoons are shown in 170 countries around the world. Peppa Pig remains huge business, and the release of a new Christmas playset in 2019 is already stoking increased interest from counterfeiters who are exploiting the copyright and designs of the characters themselves.
The appearance of Peppa Pig on a wide range of merchandise highlights one strategy that counterfeiters use, which brands should be aware of when they defend their rights. On many western marketplaces such as eBay, counterfeiters attempt to legitimize their products by using images or IP taken from official sources. On Chinese wholesale sites such as Aliexpress, however, it is more likely that buyers know the products are fake, meaning such strategies are unnecessary.
In the below example, the same “Pink Pig” product is listed on Aliexpress and eBay, with the crucial difference that on the American website a Peppa Pig trademark has been added to confuse consumers.
For brands to effectively protect their online rights and maximize the efficacy of their intellectual property, considering different geographical markets and online platforms is a necessary part of a brand protection strategy.
Don’t let counterfeiters ruin your Christmas, take action against online fakes today.