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Charlie Abrahams details how a world-leading provider of small domestic appliances and cookware developed a strategy to protect its brands against cybersquatting, click fraud, unauthorised distribution channels and the sale of counterfeit products.
The growth of the internet has brought about many advantages for consumers, particularly when it comes to shopping. Global markets can be accessed via the click of a mouse, bargains can be found regardless of the product and price comparisons have never been easier. However, in addition to the benefits for shoppers, the internet also presents significant opportunities for counterfeiters. It is becoming easier to reach consumers in the online space with fake products.
While there is no accurate description of the size of the counterfeiting market, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) estimates that the European economy, for example, loses €48bn every year because of the presence of fake goods in the marketplace. This figure covers both online platforms and physical shops and clearly demonstrates the scope of the problem.
It is a problem that brands are facing on a daily basis with the availability of counterfeit versions of their products affecting their bottom line, reputation and customer satisfaction — this includes Groupe SEB, the world leader in small domestic equipment.
Groupe SEB and its approach to brand protection and tackling counterfeiting
Every second, six customers buy a Groupe SEB product somewhere in the world, from kitchenware, electric kitchen appliances (cooking and preparation), general household and personal care. Groupe SEB’s unrivalled brand portfolio includes brands like Seb, Moulinex, Lagostina, Rowenta, Tefal, Krups, Calor, Panex, Arno, or WearEver.
Many of the group’s most popular brands — Moulinex, Rowenta, Tefal and Krups, largely sell their products through networks of resellers and online marketplaces. With multiple leading brands and such a strong internet presence, Groupe SEB has been faced with the growing threat of online counterfeiting and wanted to take proactive measures to safeguard its revenue, reputation and customers. The group enlisted the help of MarkMonitor to develop the most robust and effective online brand protection strategy.
The main risks to the group’s brands include counterfeit products being sold in online marketplaces and general cases of brandjacking and brand infringement.
Brand capital is one of the most critical assets of any company and risks posed by online counterfeiting and misuse of the group’s brand names has the potential to directly impact the organisation’s image, revenue and customer reputation. Due to the nature of the products being sold, in particular the electrical kitchen appliances, the group also has to consider the implications surrounding product safety associated with counterfeit items and the effect it might have on the image of its individual brands and any subsequent increase in legal liability risks.
With a strong global presence and multiple brands, the group has a network of local subsidiaries and partners across a range of different countries to sell the products regionally. The online brand protection strategy had to consider these key regional business partnerships and any affiliates who were authorised to sell official goods via online marketplaces. It was crucial that the MarkMonitor strategy and any resulting action would have to be aligned with Groupe SEB’s unique business.
Implementing the right strategy
A strategy was developed to meet its exacting requirements and protect the group’s brands against cybersquatting, click fraud, unauthorised distribution channels and the sale of counterfeit products. The solution focuses on websites and marketplaces, and is able to provide Groupe SEB with a wealth of invaluable information — from website traffic estimates, to IP addresses and measuring enforcement-related activity.
The MarkMonitor team produced an initial landscape report to gauge the extent of the online problem and developed a robust and effective strategy to address the individual challenges. The report sought to quantify the problem and raised numerous cases of counterfeiting and brand infringement.
The experts at MarkMonitor were able to work together with Groupe SEB and review the results showing the availability of counterfeit products on marketplaces and the unofficial use of brand names on a number of websites. Following the review, immediate action was taken and MarkMonitor made strategic enforcements under the direction of Groupe SEB.
The marketplaces of particular interest to Groupe SEB were located in Poland and across Asia and, once the authorised affiliate lists had been examined, MarkMonitor was given authority to take action on a number of specific platforms. Where appropriate, formal notices were sent directly to fraudsters to put a stop to the illegal activity and the MarkMonitor solution also enabled the group to monitor and measure the effectiveness of any action taken.
The results of a good online brand protection plan
Groupe SEB initially implemented the service in June 2014 and has since taken full advantage of its capabilities. From the initial categorised results, the group has been able to work with MarkMonitor to proceed with the most appropriate and rapid action where and when it was required.
The brand protection strategy has delivered impressive results for Groupe SEB. The figures speak for themselves, with more than 5,000 enforcements being sent to marketplaces to date. In addition, 78 site owners involved in cases related to the group’s brands have been prosecuted. The prompt action taken has seen a 95% success rate on marketplaces and 73% on websites.
There is little doubt that counterfeiting and the availability of fake products can have devastating effects on a brand, from loss of revenue and customer confidence to irreversible reputational damage. With the right brand protection strategy in place and, indeed, working the right partner in developing, monitoring and delivering that strategy, an organisation has the means to stay ahead of the problem, tackling the challenge successfully, as Groupe SEB has done, and ultimately keeping all areas of its business safe.
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