Before you take a sip from that glass of water, you may want to consider where it came from. The sale of counterfeit water filters is becoming a huge industry problem. Unfortunately, many consumers searching for bargains on OEM water filters may inadvertently find themselves buying counterfeits that can not only damage their refrigerator, possibly voiding out the warranty, but also severely put their health at risk.
A recent study conducted by The Water Quality Association (WQA) on behalf of the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), looked at the safety of counterfeit water filters and found that of the counterfeit filters tested for the removal of lead, all of them failed to meet NSF/ANSI standards. Not only did they fail to remove lead, but some also introduced new contaminants into the water including arsenic levels that far exceeded the total allowable limit.
Filter it Out is a public education campaign to inform consumers about the significant problem of counterfeit and deceptively labeled water filters for refrigerators. The campaign led by AHAM, in partnership with 17 home appliance brands, encourages consumers to buy filters only from trusted sources.
However, given the relatively high cost of replacement water filters, it is unsurprising that fake products are freely available on online marketplaces. Fakes affect nearly every brand and for some consumers, the temptation to save a few dollars is very appealing.
How can brands help consumers filter out the fakes?
Add Security Features
To help consumers spot a fake, some manufacturers incorporate security labels to their product or packaging that are difficult to reproduce. These product authenticity labels can include unique identifiers such as a serial number and random codes with associated data matrix or QR codes that allow manufacturers to trace the filters throughout the manufacturing and distribution process.
Reward Consumers for buying Authentic
Brands can encourage consumers to buy authentic with exclusive loyalty building rewards that earn them discounts, coupons, extended warranties or even free product by registering a predetermined number of security labels. This type of consumer engagement program is usually a great complement to current marketing campaigns and can really help make a brand sticky.
Monitor and remove fakes Online
The e-commerce boom has made it very easy for counterfeiters to sell and profit from fake water filters. A few years ago, consumers knew to watch out for fakes when purchasing “certain products” on “certain websites”. Today, however, the problem exists on nearly every ecommerce platform including giants such as Amazon and Walmart and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. That is why it’s critical that brands implement an online brand protection program to monitor water filter sales across the web, terminate infringing listings, and protect their IP from unauthorized use.
Taking measures such as these help manufacturers subvert the efforts of shady knock-off sellers. They also make sure that we all can rest assured the next time we take a sip of water that it is safe to drink and tastes great.