The opportunity to leverage user generated content can be used for quite strategic purposes—to sift through the comments by consumers and gain an understanding of how counterfeiters are operating, changing behaviors, and also to detect emerging threats in a more timely manner. Weeding through the vast amount of information on social networking platforms can be cumbersome, but there are guidelines to help make your search a bit more manageable.
Which sites do you choose to monitor?
Finding the most popular sites based on traffic rank and narrowing this down by region can help discern where information surrounding your product might pop up. For instance, in the U.S. you may want to monitor Facebook, but in Latin America and India, Orkut is more popular.
The demographic of the audience is also important when deciding which sites to monitor. The 30-plus crowd generally uses Facebook and blogs versus those between 18-29 who are more likely to engage on Twitter (follow us at @brandsecure) and MySpace. Adults have higher rates of blogging and using blogs to get information in comparison to younger demographics. Finding interest-specific blogs and forums is another way to learn the buzz on your product’s whereabouts.
Comments to monitor for:
- Product integrity complaints?
- Mentions of a failing or substandard product?
- Pricing discussions and recommendations on where to find lower prices.
- Discussion on procuring products outside of intended distribution channels.
- Consumers paying premiums for products that are not yet launched in particular regions of the world.
- Complaints of long waits to receive products—usually shipped from remote places.
- Which sites are people buying from?
What can we learn from conversations?
With the low barrier of entry, anonymity, and borderless-ness, global trade platforms make counterfeits and the sales of illicit goods easy to transpire. Consequently, the wealth of information available also grows, as we can now gather information on online sellers, vendor recommendations, and how to obtain products in countries where it has not been released (sometimes by the use of package forwarding companies or family and friends in different locations). Many buyers have proven a willingness to pay a premium for products, too. We find mainly that this was fueled by low inventory or sold out products, delayed shipments, and international buyers.
The buzz is here to stay—let’s perk up our ears and start listening to the conversation.
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