The counterfeit threat to athletic footwear brands are enormous: loss of market share, lower profits for diverted goods, loss of brand integrity, growing market appeal for poor quality imitations, and potential warranty issues for low quality fakes. Brand owners must put their best foot forward in the fight against counterfeiting, but first, it’s important to understand the source of this growing issue.
Why Athletic Footwear is Counterfeited
The more market visibility a brand gains, the more susceptible they are to counterfeiting. And with the global athletic apparel industry in total set to reach $125 billion by 2017, which includes athletic shoes, the market potential is vast. Fast paced trends and technologies
also drive this trend—not to mention the brand market appeal. In addition, the rise of contract manufacturing, globalization, and the Internet makes it easy for counterfeiters to target the most popular brands, infiltrate the supply chain, and profit from the sale of knock-offs.
Where Counterfeiters Hide
Counterfeiting in the athletic shoe market is a global issue that’s especially large in the Americas, predominantly the U.S., but many products are manufactured overseas. It’s actually possible that a factory down the road from a brand sanctioned facility is creating knock-offs at the same time. When products are shipped back overseas, they can end up in local shops. We actually see large numbers of fake shoes appear in discount retailers as well as outdoor markets and street corners.
The Internet has also opened a new avenue for counterfeiters to reach consumers, as it provides an ideal platform for dubious sellers to hide under the guise of anonymity, sell in large quantities over B2B trade boards, and create phony storefronts to lure in unsuspecting customers. Auction sites like eBay have also opened the flood gates as smaller, independent distributors can obtain products in bulk quantities, and in turn resell them to unsuspecting consumers.
Implement a Brand Protection Strategy
To combat counterfeits, brand owners must implement a brand protection strategy. Critical to this strategy is working with leading brand protection and enforcement experts to secure the supply chain. Other critical steps include:
- Applying uniform authentication and information technologies across all products.
- Creating appropriate awareness of authentication and information technologies in an enforcement network.
- Enforcing IP rights both online and offline.
A combination of physical authentication and market-wide education not only enables Customs and consumers to identify authentic goods, it also equips brands with the necessary information to take legal action—an important step to preventing this illicit activity and preserving the integrity of their brand.