Most marketing departments focus all their attention on talking about their product with consumers. They hopefully make the product irresistible to consumers. That’s their job. The job of the brand protection department is to help consumers avoid buying counterfeits which can damage their brand and reduce sales. It’s not often that the two groups are aligned. There is a place, however, where the two objectives can align and that’s when you’re talking to consumers about where to shop. The Marketing focus is to drive sales by creating many channels of distribution and the Brand Protection focus is to insure that those channels are not corrupted by counterfeit sellers and rogue websites.
As we know, consumers are not depending on the Internet for their shopping needs. The Internet provides not only convenience, but selection, variety, and most importantly better prices. If you don’t talk to your consumers about where to shop, you run the risk that they’ll discover a counterfeit site that you don’t want them to.
So how does marketing and brand protection work together to protect their company, customers and products from counterfeiters? They do it by working together on creating a planned global distribution plan that includes the Internet.
If you have brick and mortar sellers, you should define who and where those sellers should be. Don’t let a distributor define your channels of distribution. Clear points of sale make it easy for you to communicate, “authorized dealers” to your customers. Advertise those authorized dealers on your website and in advertisements. This not only pleases your retailers but also directs customers to shop where authentic products are sold. You should further insure the integrity of this channel by creating retailer agreements that define your distribution and marketing policy and prohibit transshipping. It should also clarify whether the retailer is authorized to sell on the Internet.
For online retailers, the same rules apply. A retailer agreement can define the levels of service, customer care, and returns policy that would be expected by your customers for your brand and product. The agreement can also define your distribution policy regarding transshipping and shipping into other geographical locations. Remember, counterfeiters can use loose products to their advantage. If you use distributors, they should also be required to adhere to your distribution policy no mater where they are located. Once you have put your distribution controls in place, it is easy to then inform to your customers, exactly where they can shop and be confident that the products will be authentic.
Of course, to maintain the integrity of this plan and to insure that your retailers and distributors are respecting your guidelines, you must monitor where your brand is being sold. Online brand protection is a key element in ensuring the integrity of your distribution policy.