Michael D. Moberly January 9, 2009
Here’s an interesting analogy, dichotomy if you will, relevant to product counterfeiting and piracy. Presumably most sports fans (consumers), with the notable exception of followers of so-called ‘professional wrestling’, deeply care about player – contest (sporting event) authenticity. By authentic, I mean, fans prefer contests to be a genuine battle of tactics, skills, and physical ability and free from player use of performance enhancing drugs, incompetent referees, points shaving scams, and/or players betting on outcomes, etc.
Its quite possible however, that a significant percentage of those ‘consumers’ (sports fans) may not convey or share the same sense of concern about the ‘authenticity’ of products or services they purchase and may willingly and knowingly seek and purchase knockoffs, counterfeits, and pirated products. I realize that for some readers this may be interpreted as one of those ‘apples and oranges’ comparisons. But, I don’t think so, and here’s why.
There is growing evidence, albeit anecdotal in most instances, that consumer indifference is elevating regarding the purchase – use of certain categories of products in terms of whether they’re authentic and legitimate, or infringed, counterfeited, and pirated.
For companies with intensive – valuable portfolios of IP, intangible assets, and competitive advantages that are regularly spending large sums to protect and defend their brands, IP and use rights, the broader and perhaps irreversible challenge (consequence of the recession) may come when consumer (brand, product) loyalty, exacerbated by the recession, declines further to the point that concern (care) whether a product or service is ‘fake’ becomes secondary to cost.
Of course, when-if this occurs on a large scale, it will surely and adversely affect a company’s value, revenue, and sustainability. And, interestingly the cause won’t be attributable to any of the conventional risks or threats to reputation or brand integrity, rather merely a reflection (consequence) of changes in consumer attitudes toward spending. And, I fully expect that the well organized global product counterfeiting and piracy industry has already ‘geared up’ to accommodate those consumers so inclined.