Counterfeiters are aware of our penchant for a good deal and are adept at intercepting bargain hunting consumers as we found in the Shopping Report that we released at the start of the 2012 holiday shopping period. Surveying more than five million shopping sessions over a nine-month period, we found that one in five bargain hunters were duped by rogue sites selling counterfeit items while searching for deals on apparel and luxury goods.
Brandjackers took advantage of bargain hunters’ tendency to search for deals by incorporating key terms like ‘discount’, ‘outlet’ or ‘sale’ in their search strategy. Many counterfeit goods are priced to appear as legitimate goods on sale, often discounted at 25–50 percent off the legitimate list prices, which is comparable to end-of-season or ‘blowout’ sale prices. These plausible prices allow bargain hunters to feel they are getting a good deal on legitimate merchandise, especially when coupled with the increasing tendency for rogue sites to feature brands’ recent marketing campaigns and legitimate photographs.
In addition to crafting holistic brand protection strategies to safeguard their brands in digital channels, we recommend that e-commerce and marketing professionals create their own digital marketing strategies around bargain-related terms to blunt the brandjackers’ appeal. Whether your brand discounts its goods or not, utilizing discount-related search terms in your SEO and paid search strategies gives you a chance to engage directly with your bargain-hunting customers. Some brands have used this method of customer engagement as an opportunity to educate their consumers on their own philosophy and the dangers of counterfeit products. Still other brands utilize these search terms to increase their own visibility to their bargain-loving customers and provide their own discounts.
As more consumers turn to digital channels for researching products and shopping online, they’ll risk encountering counterfeiters who are adept at using best practices in digital marketing to con bargain hunters. Companies that take steps to proactively minimize the chances that brandjackers can engage with their customers in the digital world will likely see a return on their investment for years to come.