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How Brands Can Stop Product Fraudsters in Today’s Counterfeit Economy

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By Emmanuel Asika

Brands all over the world have a big problem on their hands – dealing with the ugly menace of counterfeit products that are continually flooding the marketplace which are undermining original equipment manufacturers’ (OEM) products.

Emmanuel Asika

The activities of these criminals, worsening by the day, undeniably affect the revenue of brands. But more worrisome for these brands, is the issue of lost consumer trust.

In instances, they have been misled into believing that they were buying the original product, only for the product to break down or develop a fault sooner than expected.

In Nigeria, for instance, counterfeiting remains a concern for brands, especially for those in the pharmaceutical industry, with 13% – 15% of drugs in the country said to be fake, according to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

As of January 2022, the prevalence rate of fake drugs was reportedly higher than the global average of 10% and contributes to a sizable number of deaths annually. In one report, NAFDAC’s director of investigation and enforcement directorate, Kingsley Ejiofor, stated that the agency had seized 2 trillion-naira ($4.8 billion) worth of counterfeit drugs in the past three years.

Aside from pharmaceutical products, other prominent counterfeit items found in Nigeria are: food items, footwear, clothing, leather goods, automotive parts, optical media (CDs and DVDs), cosmetics, alcohol, and jewellery.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also shifted the landscape somewhat, with a greater number of people resorting to online shopping. Unfortunately, as brands embraced e-commerce, so did criminals.

Today, e-commerce platforms offer criminals the anonymity they need to sell products which they present as genuine goods. Where face-to-face retail offers consumers the opportunity to identify fake products at the point of sale, making those selling the products, liable for the products they sell.

With online sales, it becomes easy for illegitimate products to be passed off as original goods to global markets. As a result, brands like HP, renowned for producing print cartridges for customers around the world, must act fast to stop the spread of fake goods universally, both online and offline.

The biggest profit margins for these crooks lie in the commercial market, but they have also been targeting the consumer market. Understanding that consumers like a discount, something that is even more true with the rising cost of living, drives customers to look for cheaper deals. In the end, most of these consumers are tricked into buying counterfeits they thought were genuine.

E-commerce requires new tactics

At HP, our strategy for investigating fake products usually entails looking at the entire commercial and retail supply chain, beginning from physical locations to online platforms. This allows us to be able to trace from stores to a distributor, and upwards to the producer.

This strategy tactic has proven beneficial as we saw that between November 2020 and October 2021, HP seized 3.5 million fake print products, including completed goods and component parts, circulating in several regions including in EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

The growth of e-commerce means that we will need a wider set of tools, tactics and allies. A great percentage of fake-print products are traded in online marketplaces, and HP has been liaising with these platforms and other third-party groups to help spot counterfeit goods, confiscate them, and find their source.

For instance, HP usually carries out virtual Customer Delivery Inspections (CDIs) and Channel Partner Protection Audits (CPPAs). In FY21 alone, we conducted 1,191 CPPAs, representing an 11% increase on FY20.

These virtual checks and reviews have helped the HP Anti-Counterfeit and Fraud (ACF) team in finding and delisting over 224,000 illegitimate HP online offers globally; and we are doubling down, increasing the number of online delisting’s by 19% every year.

Additionally, HP continues to use dynamic security, which ensures chips within our products are kept updated with information that helps customers verify our product’s authenticity.

Why it is important

The anti-counterfeit war requires collaboration with several parties and joint efforts prove to be very effective. Recently, there has been stronger calls for collaboration amongst relevant stakeholders across all supply chains, to join the fight against counterfeit products in Nigeria.

Indeed, it is in everyone’s best interest to stop the use of counterfeit print products. For instance, HP printers work at their optimal levels when genuine print products are used rather than fake ones.

There are however bigger concerns – where fraudulent businesses are not concerned about the working conditions and welfare of their workers. Patronising genuine goods is an important way of supporting fair working conditions for workers around the world.

Buying original products also shows one’s commitment to protecting the environment. HP has created over 3.9 billion original HP ink and toner cartridges mainly from recycled plastic. Currently, more than 80% of Original HP ink cartridges and 100% of Original HP toner cartridges are made with recycled content.

With the HP Planet Partners, HP’s return and recycling programme, the company has recycled more than 875 million cartridges since the programme began nearly 30 years ago, with expansion to 68 countries around the globe. Patronising genuine products encourages these kinds of efforts and increases the number of sustainable cartridges in circulation.

For us at HP, we are encouraged and remain committed to halt the manufacturing of counterfeit products at source. We are also on a drive to educate consumers, the main victim in all this, about the need to report any fake products they come across.

It is a collective responsibility that involves all, from manufacturers all the way to the consumers themselves – to discourage the cycle of counterfeit goods and manipulative criminal activities. We encourage all HP customers to always look out for the holographic security label on their product box, scan the QR code to check if it’s a genuine or not– and report if it’s a counterfeit.

  Emmanuel Asika is Country Head, HP Nigeria

 


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E-Business

Expert Urges FG to Harmonise NIN, BVN to Tackle Crimes

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Noble Ajuonu, head, Sydani Technologies Ltd., has urged the Federal Government to harmonise National Identification Number (NIN) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) to tackle crimes and insecurity in the country.

Expert Urges FG to Harmonise NIN, BVN to Tackle Crimes

Ajuonu made the call at a media roundtable, organised by Sydani Group in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roundtable focuses on driving sustainability through a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s key development areas.

Ajuonu said that Nigeria could overcome its security challenges and pave the way for a safer, more secure future for all Nigerians by embracing technology and implementing practical solutions,

“We need to harmonise data, prioritise seamless integration of databases like NIN, BVN, and security agency records, establish clear protocols for data sharing and access, with robust safeguards against misuse,’’ expert said.

According to him, the unified data pool will empower intelligence gathering and targeted operations.

He also called for investments in smart surveillance, intelligent video analytics software, training of personnel in data analysis, interpretation of data in real-time to combat crimes.

“There is need to implement a legal framework for call interception in criminal investigations, with strict oversight to prevent abuse, encourage community cohesion, training of tech savvy security personnel with tech-enabled tools.’’

Ajuonu also urged the government to address infrastructure deficit in technology, saying that technology was all encompassing to address insecurity.

“According to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as of December 2023, only 104.2 million Nigerians had been enrolled for the National Identity Number (NIN).’’

Ajuonu added that over 122.2 million citizens left uncaptured for NIN were people in rural areas where enrolment centres, digital services were limited.

“Most crimes are being perpetuated from rural communities and this lack of comprehensive identification creates a gap where elements not captured in the national database can constitute public nuisance, crimes.

“There is the inadequacy in the integration of NIN, BVN and Voters Identification Number (VIN).

“Advanced call interception and analysis tools, used successfully in other countries, could provide invaluable insights into criminal networks and operations but infrastructure is lacking,’’ he said.

Also, Mr Godfrey Petgrave, the Agricultural Expert, Sydani Group, called for empowerment of smallholder farmers with access to finance and training to enhance productivity.

According to Petgrave, Nigeria requires policy reform and institutional strengthening to improve agricultural practices and embrace digital agriculture solutions to address food insecurity.

Mr Akolade Jimoh, another expert of the group on health, advocated for expanded community-based health insurance programmes for rural and underserved areas.

Jimoh added that the country needed to encourage Public Private Partnership to revolutionise products design and quality improvement on health services.


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E-Business

Konga launches Infinix Brand Week with Incredible Deals

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Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce group, is thrilled to announce the launch of amazing deals at its Infinix Brand Week. Infinix, a leading global smartphone brand known for its innovative products and cutting-edge technology promises exclusive discounts and special offers on select smartphones, marking an exciting milestone in the realm of online shopping.

Shoppers can expect nothing short of extraordinary deals on a wide range of Infinix products, all available exclusively on the Konga online platform. With discounts of up to 30% off, this partnership between Konga and Infinix aims to redefine the shopping experience for tech enthusiasts across Nigeria.

Konga Brand Week has become synonymous with excitement and unbeatable deals, and this year’s edition is no exception. In addition to exclusive discounts on Infinix smartphones, shoppers can explore a diverse array of products across various categories, including electronics, fashion, home essentials, and more.

“At Konga, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best shopping experience possible,” said Rita Ohaedoghasi, VP Marketing at Konga. “The Infinix Week during Konga Brand Week allows us to continue delivering on that promise by offering incredible discounts and special offers on some of the most sought-after smartphones in the market.”

To stay updated on the latest developments and exclusive deals during Konga Brand Week, shoppers are encouraged to connect with Konga across all platforms, including social media and the Konga website. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to score big savings and elevate your tech game with Infinix and Konga.


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E-Business

Study Reveals Software Programmers to make Full Use of AI Code Assistants

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Gartner predicts that by 2028, 75 percent of enterprise software engineers will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) code assistants, up from less than 10 percent, currently.

According to a Gartner poll of 598 global respondents conducted in the third quarter of 2023, 63 percent of organisations are now testing, deploying, or have previously implemented AI code assistants.

AI code assistants provide for more capabilities than only code development and completion, notes the research firm.

According to Gartner, the use of AI code assistants can lead to higher work satisfaction and retention, resulting in lower turnover costs.

Philip Walsh, senior principal analyst at Gartner, comments: “Software engineering leaders must determine ROI and build a business case as they scale their rollouts of AI code assistants.

“However, traditional ROI frameworks steer engineering leaders toward metrics centred on cost reduction. This narrow perspective fails to capture the full value of AI code assistants.”

Gartner notes that software engineering leaders must “reframe the ROI conversation from cost reduction to value generations”.

Walsh adds: “Calculating time savings on code generation is a good place to begin building a more robust value story. To convey the full enterprise value story for AI code assistants, software engineering leaders should connect value enablers to impacts, and then analyse the overall return to the organisation.”

 


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