I just returned from my first IACC conference on Barcelona and thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences of the event.
Firstly, Barcelona was a great city for this event and a wonderful place to visit. I didn’t meet anyone that was disappointed with the hospitality and and entertainment. Taxi’s were always available which is handy as Barcelona has banned Uber.
A big part of the event and many of the sessions seemed to be focused on the takedown of online counterfeit sales with what appeared to be no end in sight to the Whack-A-Mole approach of these technologies. The response to the complaints of Whack-A-Mole was that the online brand protection acts like a finger on a spring, suppressing the problem. In my opinion the energy required to keep your finger on the spring causes significant fatigue, especially when there are multiple springs popping up. I counted 13 online marketplace monitoring companies so the demand for this approach is still high and only a couple could really differentiate themselves from the pack.
There was a lively debate around the concept of ROI for anti-counterfeit technologies. There were multiple comments on how it was very difficult to show ROI for anti counterfeit due to the significant cost of litigation and the fact that the problem never seems to really stop. Take the recent successful case of an energy drink company that spent $3.5 million and took 5 years to convict 1 person. That case was considered a success despite the significant cost and little apparent return.
During the discussion the conversation changed to how focusing on the ROI that could be achieved by fighting the Grey Market allowed the brand to see real revenue improvements, along with this fight comes the side benefit of including anti-counterfeit technologies inherent in those solutions designed to cut of the supply of products to the grey market. It was generally agreed that it was much easier to see a return from fighting the grey market and where you find grey, you also find counterfeit.
By showing real ROI from fighting the grey market AND having the side effect of authenticating product it would be much easier for a brand protection team to get the resources needed to be successful. Its seems a simple change of focus could make the financial justification of fighting the problems much easier.
There were a number of interesting panel discussions but one was a standout. During the panel discussion focusing on counterfeit sales on the Social Media and Online Marketplaces there were some great questions being asked by the moderator and the attendees. The moderator did a fantastic job of digging down into the problem faced by brands with the online marketplaces. The dancing going on by some members of the panel was memorable to say the least. Someone close by said that “they’re putting Sean Spicer to shame with some of the spin being presented”
Overall the theme was that the problem of counterfeit is still getting worse and there is no end yet in sight for the legal only approach that brands are taking. The lawyers don’t seem quite ready yet to exchange billable hours for technology solutions that could make the brands fight easier.