Few things are as annoying and frustrating as unknowingly purchasing a counterfeit product and only discovering that when it’s too late. As much as it is possible to identify a fake product, many consumers may not know how to go about it and clearly there is need for education on the same.
“Counterfeiting is a federal and state crime, involving the manufacturing or distribution of goods under someone else’s name, and without their permission. Counterfeit goods are generally made from lower quality components, in an attempt to sell a cheap imitation of similar goods produced by brands consumers know and trust.” Source.
Buying anything other than the original can be financially denting as the components used in manufacturing fakes are cheap and substandard. This means that the item will not be value for money and will not perform or last as long as a genuine product. In Kenya and other countries for example, a number of Phillips lamps are sold as counterfeits. Cheap components found in these counterfeit lamps, such as drivers which regulate electric voltage, cause the lamp to fail well before its stated lifetime. Fakes can also be downright hazardous since the manufacturers do not necessarily commit to recommended safety industry standards. In the case of electronics and electrical fixtures for example, consumers could put their wellbeing and that of their families at great risk by purchasing and using counterfeits.
There are no reliable industry wide statistics on the number of products that are counterfeit but from market feedback received by Philips, it is clear that the problem is very severe. The counterfeiting problem is big and it is worldwide, costing the global economy an estimated USD250 Billion a year. In Africa, counterfeit products are posing serious concerns for local economies and brands who have worked hard to build reputations and consumer confidence in the markets. It is with this in mind that Philips is seeking to work alongside consumers, government authorities, and other relevant organizations to see how they can collaborate to enlighten and inform the consumers on matters counterfeiting and how to avoid falling victim.
Phillips has recently launched the ‘Buy Original’ campaign which kicks off in Sub-Saharan Africa in the first quarter of 2015. The company will be introducing innovative hologram security stickers for lamps, and providing a unique 16 digit code validation code for all their lighting products, as well as the original sticker for their consumer lifestyle and lighting products to enable consumers to easily and instantaneously identify originals.
In addition to that, Philips is also setting up an SMS number for authentication of its lighting products so that in case of doubt, consumers in Kenya can send the 16 digit serial number of the lighting product via SMS to 220222 and they will get immediate feedback on whether the product they are planning to buy is genuine. These laudable anti-counterfeit efforts from Philips are a pilot program and if successful, Philips will explore rolling this out to other products in their portfolio too.
Other than the efforts that the manufacturers are taking to tame the counterfeiting menace, there are ways too in which consumers can be vigilant to ensure that they only buy original. Only shop from authorized re-sellers who bring products from the genuine manufacturers. Carefully scrutinize labels, packaging and contents and if in doubt, trust your instincts and take extra measures before purchasing.