Everyone likes saving money. But too often, the too-good-to-be-true item is not what it seems. Counterfeiting is an insidious problem. And when it comes to dietary supplements and nutritional products, the perceived savings at the expense of quality (and maybe safety) not only has financial implications, but can also adversely affect health and wellness when buyers miss out on the genuine ingredient, sometimes replaced with an inactive placebo—or worse, with harmful or deadly “knockoffs.”
The best estimates based on data provided by customs authorities indicate that counterfeit and pirated products accounted for as much as half a trillion U.S. dollars in world trade with approximately 3.3% of total global trade in counterfeit and pirated products. The U.S. alone estimated annual losses approaching $600 billion due to counterfeit goods, software piracy and the theft of copyrights and trade secrets. Fake products are found in every trade sector, from perfumes and olive oil, to industrial chemicals and machine parts, to apparel and music, to fish and, yes, even dietary supplements.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) deputy-secretary general said the findings of the report “contradict the image that counterfeiters only hurt big companies and luxury goods manufacturers. They take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives. Endangering lives with auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment, etc.”
Counterfeiting has tremendous impacts on brand owners—even beyond the lost sales of the genuine goods. When counterfeiters infringe on the trademark, patent or copyright of brand owners by passing off the counterfeit goods, they leave that brand owner potentially liable if the buyer is harmed by the product. Reputation is also at stake when it comes to knockoffs. When buyers don’t experience the desired effects of the product they take, it reflects poorly on the brand, and they do not become repeat customers, or they vent their “complaints” on highly visible social network platforms impacting goodwill and corporate image.
Fortunately, brand owners can take steps to fight back. A promising three-part strategy focuses on reducing the opportunities to become a target of counterfeiting, monitoring the marketplace for potential attacks, and fighting back when a company discovers it’s been targeted.
A product compliance database like HawkScanner plays a great role in making sure you are selling the correct items with legal ingredients. You need to make sure the ingredients are FDA approved and not illegal. Sign up for HawkScanner today to receive FIVE monthly searches at no cost.