We tend to associate counterfeiting with the printing of fake money, but it’s also a significant problem for manufacturers in consumer industries. Criminals tamper with existing products or produce duplicated versions for financial gain while putting consumers at risk. It’s estimated the sale of counterfeit goods costs U.S. businesses a total of $600 billion annually.
The costs go beyond the dollar amount, though. It takes time and resources to remove counterfeited items from markets. The loss of potential sales and deterioration of trust can also be significant. Consumers who unknowingly purchase counterfeited items—with their lack of quality, integrity, or even danger to the users’ safety—are as much as 35% less likely to buy the brand again.
The problem has only grown as e-commerce continues to boom. There’s a greater variety of products hitting the market (and in emerging fields, such as CBD), and consumers are increasingly doing their shopping online. Counterfeiters have also developed skills to create convincing replicants.
Just as criminals have evolved with technology and buyer behaviors, though, so too have printing and packaging manufacturers. They’ve relied on advanced printing techniques to produce secondary packaging solutions, in particular folding cartons, that feature anti-counterfeiting (also called authentication) effects. These include special inks, but also multi-layered measures imperceptible to the naked eye.
You should ask your printing and packaging partner about their anti-counterfeiting solutions as part of their greater suite of services. It can give you and your customers peace of mind and protect your brand. Here’s what you need to know.
Overt vs. Covert Anti-Counterfeiting Solutions
Counterfeiting is an international problem, with ‘super fakes’—near-identical versions of legitimate products—finding their way into consumers’ hands. These are mostly confined to the high-end fashion accessories markets (think purses and watches), but others have also been affected. When the counterfeited items show up on verified online shopping sites, namely Amazon, consumers are duped by the appearance of the product, as well as the vendor.
To combat this trend, anti-counterfeiters and authenticators have produced innovative, sophisticated solutions, including in printing and packaging.
Printers can now protect your products with a combination of overt and covert solutions. Mixing these makes it all the more difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate your packaging, but also goes beyond that one physical act. Some show signs of tampering. Some are visual displays that are exceedingly difficult to recreate. Others even enable users along the supply chain to track your products and ensure they’re going to their intended destinations.
Overt Authentication Solutions
As the name suggests, overt solutions are apparent to the naked eye and serve multiple purposes. They’re difficult to replicate, and provide cues for vendors and consumers to authenticate products.
Color-Shifting Inks: Their name doesn't refer to physical movement of inks, but rather, the illusion created. When viewed from different angles, the color changes.
Pearlescent Inks: These create a shimmering visual effect.
Tamper-Evident Closures & Labels: Self-evident in nature, these closures clue in customers and vendors that packaging has been altered or previously opened.
Holographic Seals & Labels: The shine and particular graphics of holographic seals and labels can’t be easily duplicated without high-end printing capabilities.
Specialized 2D & QR Codes: Building upon traditional bar codes, authenticators have created 2D and QR codes to enable manufacturers to track their products. In some cases, consumers can use their smartphones to access exclusive content with a QR code.
Covert Authentication Solutions
Covert solutions take advantage of digital technology to create effects that can only be perceived with the right tools. They’re highly secure ways for vendors to confirm the authenticity of products.
Several examples include:
UV & Infrared (IR) Light-Reactive Inks: Under UV or IR lights, these inks confirm the authenticity of the packaging they adorn.
Thermochromic Inks: These reveal specific images during significant temperature changes.
Hidden Indicia: A feature is hidden on the packaging that can only be seen with a special lens or decoding software.
Digimarc Barcodes & Digital Watermarking: These invisible marks can only be detected by enabled devices.
Taggants: These are invisible molecular or optical markers that are added to inks and coatings. They are only detectable with specialized laboratory equipment or proprietary field detection devices that are specifically calibrated for each branded solution.
Keep in mind that one solution isn’t enough to properly protect your brand. It’s best to mix effects to make it all the more difficult for criminals to mimic your packaging. Also, when done effectively, combined overt and covert authentication solutions will blend in seamlessly with the rest of the brand features and your marketing efforts. Your packaging can be beautiful and secure—it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
The Right Packaging Partner Matters
Anti-counterfeiting isn’t something you can take lightly. After all, you’ve invested serious time and resources into developing your products, building a brand, and growing your customer base. You can’t afford to let any of that suffer because of illicit activity.
Put another way: You can validate the trust of employees, stakeholders, and customers placed in your brand.
That’s why you need an experienced authenticator on your side. The right packaging partner will respect your values and develop an anti-counterfeiting solution that meets your standards. Oliver Inc. has been a leader in this field, crafting innovative techniques to produce folding cartons with a mix of authentication features.
In fact, anti-counterfeiting is tied directly to our company’s core values as a customer-centric, creative solutions provider, as well as our purpose and niche: Make a positive difference in the lives of employees, customers and communities, and provide creative, competitive and reliable packaging and print solutions that drive sales and peace of mind.
When you partner with Oliver, you can be sure that only the authentic versions of your products are hitting the shelves. It’s about more than protecting your brand. It’s about delivering a complete packaging solution that helps your brand flourish.