5 Unexpected Fakes

With fake goods estimated to account for 5-7% of world trade ($600 billion per year), we have all probably run into at least a few counterfeit products at one point or another. For many people, particularly in the U.S., fake goods mean pirated DVDs and knock-off designer bags sold on the street. Counterfeiting, however, is present in virtually every industry and is not always as easy to recognize as a poorly printed cover or misspelled brand name. Here are five things we would not have expected to see faked:

1. Cigarettes

Agencies around the world have been warning people about the dangers of fake cigarettes. In Punjab, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) found that at least 20% of the tobacco products sold were faked, and just last week, 1.5 million counterfeit cigarettes were seized in Poland before being sent to the UK and Norway. While genuine cigarettes already raise strong concerns about health, fake cigarettes have been found to contain ingredients such as cyanide, sand, and even plastic. Additionally, fake cigarettes are more likely to cause fires, as they are not designed to burn in a controlled manner like genuine cigarettes.

Source: icpress

Source: icpress

2. Oranges

There are many examples of counterfeited processed foods and drinks (we wrote a blog post in June about the deaths of over 100 people in Mumbai as a result of consuming fake liquor), but how could unprocessed foods be faked? In Iran, officials discovered that oranges’ type and origin had been faked after they found a suspicious batch of oranges labeled as Israeli Jaffa Sweeties, even though Israel had banned trade between the two countries. Officials later learned that the oranges were not Jaffa Sweeties that somehow bypassed the trade ban, but rather a different type of orange from China with faked Jaffa Sweetie labels. In addition to faked Jaffa Sweeties, Australian officials have found oranges with fake Australian fruit company labels in China, when the oranges are actually from China and colored with toxic, artificial dyes to try and improve their appearance.

Source: http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=866126

Source: http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=866126

3. Tourniquets

Although fake medicines often garner a lot of the media attention, they are not the only healthcare related products that are counterfeited. In fact, fake medical devices are becoming more and more common. This past week, New Hampshire officials learned that some of its first responders had been supplied with fake tourniquets, simple medical devices that help control blood loss during severe injuries. Officials discovered this after two tourniquets experienced an uncharacteristic “catastrophic failure” while paramedics tried to stop the blood loss from a patient’s leg injury.

Source: http://www.atlantictactical.com/product/elite-first-aid-c-a-t-tourniquet/elite_first_aid_inc#.VdSfh1NViko

Source: http://www.atlantictactical.com/product/elite-first-aid-c-a-t-tourniquet/elite_first_aid_inc#.VdSfh1NViko

4. Fake Celebrities and Businessmen

Sometimes a counterfeit is not even a physical product. In an article and short documentary published earlier this year, the New York Times reports on how Chinese real estate agents hire ordinary foreigners to pose as fake foreign celebrities to help sell their housing developments. The Atlantic also reported a similar story on how some Chinese companies hire foreigners to pose as a fake businessman in order to give the companies an “image of connection” outside of China to clients and other companies.

Source: http://www.larsskree.com/

Source: http://www.larsskree.com/

5. Fake Stores

Lastly, when selling fake products is not enough, you can fake an entire store. In 2011, Chinese officials discovered 22 fake Apple stores operating in the country. The stores illegally used Apple’s brand and logo and staff wore extremely similar t-shirts and lanyards to the ones found in genuine Apple stores. Although it hasn’t been confirmed whether the fake stores sold genuine or fake Apple products, it’s hard to imagine that a fake store actually sold a genuine product.

Source: https://birdabroad.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/are-you-listening-steve-jobs/

Source: https://birdabroad.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/are-you-listening-steve-jobs/

While it may be shocking to learn that these 5 things have been faked, our expectations of what can and cannot be faked are exactly what counterfeiters prey on. As long as they can counterfeit something that consumers don’t expect and make it widely available, countless people will fall for their trap, losing money and putting their safety at risk.

What other unexpected fakes have you seen or heard about? Let us know in the comments.

Sproxil Officially Launches Operations in Pakistan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SPROXIL OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES OPERATIONS IN PAKISTAN

Company Welcomes Auto Parts Company Western Exports As The First Client

Cambridge, MA (August 4, 2015) – Sproxil®, the leading global provider of innovative brand protection and loyalty solutions, today announced that it has officially launched operations in Pakistan and welcomed their first client, further expanding the global reach of the company. Pakistani consumers will now easily be able to verify that a product is genuine by SMS texting the unique code found on the package to short code 9786, using Sproxil’s consumer verification mobile app or verifying online at sproxil.com/verify. Counterfeited products are recognized as a multi-billion dollar problem to manufacturers around the globe.

Western Exports (WE), a trusted manufacturer of high-quality automotive parts for over 40 years, will begin utilizing Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) technology to help differentiate their piston and ring products from counterfeited parts. Consumers will be able to quickly verify that the products are genuine using their mobile devices at the point-of-sale.

“We established the Pakistan operations in response to the growing demand of consumers who want assurance that the products they are purchasing are genuine. We look forward to engaging with the estimated 80 percent of Pakistani consumers using mobile devices,” explained Ashifi Gogo, CEO at Sproxil. “We welcome Western Exports, the prestigious multi-national auto parts company, as our first Pakistani client.”

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About Sproxil

Sproxil® is an ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certified social enterprise that uses mobile technology to combat counterfeiting and increase brand equity with innovative, consumer-focused product protection and targeted marketing solutions. Its award-winning Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) service helps ensure goods are not counterfeit or compromised, empowering consumers to verify product genuineness by SMS, mobile app, web or voice.

Compatible with any tangible item, MPA is widely used by leading pharmaceutical companies to curb the multi-billion-dollar counterfeit drug industry. MPA also protects products across multiple industries, including personal care, automotive aftermarket parts and electrical cables. The company has been recognized globally for its efforts against counterfeiting and is endorsed by regulatory bodies in Nigeria and Kenya. Sproxil received the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2013 Patents for Humanity Award in Information Technology, the 2010 IBM SmartCamp Boston Award and the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award. In 2013, Sproxil was named the most innovative company in healthcare and #7 overall by Fast Company Magazine. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, Sproxil has operations in India, Ghana (serving West Africa), Kenya (serving East Africa), Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, with the ability to execute projects on six major continents.

About Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™)

MPA is simple to use and can be accessed by any mobile phone. Before purchasing a product, the consumers scratch a label to reveal a unique, one-time use code. They then SMS text the code to a secure number provided on the product package. Within seconds, Sproxil notifies the end user, via SMS, of the result. Alternatively, end users can verify using Sproxil’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry mobile apps, by web, or through the company’s call center to get results in their local language. The company provides the most channels to verify products instantly.

For more information and a full list of Sproxil’s solution suite, please visit www.sproxil.com

Pakistan Country Contact: Media Contact:
Faisal Raza Paul Whalen
Business Development Manager Marketing Director
Lahore, Pakistan Cambridge, MA, USA
faisal.raza@sproxil.com paul.whalen@sproxil.com
+92 321 607 8888 +1 774 777 6945

Benefits of a Customer Journey Map

In the world of marketing and product design, there is a shift in focus toward the ideas of “user centered design” (UCD) and “design thinking.” UCD and design thinking take a methodological approach to iterating upon design and processes based on feedback from consumers. It therefore is a cyclical process of improvement, not a linear one, that centers around the idea of user empathy. It involves enhancing the users’ experiences in their interaction with your product. As a part of integrating these ideas into your marketing and product design, you must build a customer journey map.

A customer journey map enables the company to place themselves in the shoes of their consumers (empathy). It helps relay the story of the consumer’s exact experience from the moment they come in contact with your product (or even before!) to the point where they purchase and eventually use the product or service (and even after!). This could range from the point of advertising to the application of the service or product in their daily lives.

walking in customers shoes

The Benefits of the Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map helps companies empathize with customers by studying their interactions surrounding the use of their products or services. It helps to identify loopholes within the company’s processes that may bar ideal product use and make improvements that are based on the real data. Here are a few examples of where loopholes may be identified.

Customer engagement channels – If 70% of your customers are above 65 years old, social media may not be the most efficient channel to reach them at the moment. While the population of adults online in that age group are increasing daily, the rate is not as fast as other age groups. Therefore, mapping out a 65 year olds experience may require the company to research and identify alternative customer touch points that better reach this target group.

Know your media – If you run a technology business and have an app, you need to ensure your target market would be able to access and use the app in the way the company intended. For example, in a country where English is not the first language, you may want to give multiple language options. Another consideration is how your app can drain battery; in some markets where electricity is not always consistent, people’s behaviors on your app may be different. You may also need to consider what devices and operating systems are most popular within your target market to verify they would be able to interact with your product or service. Are they mostly feature phones? Android or iOS? How would that impact what you develop? Understanding the media in which your customers interact with your product or service is important in making it accessible.

mobile phones in customer journey map

Creating a Customer Journey Map

Now that we have identified some of the benefits of having a customer journey map, we can identify a few key steps on how to create a comprehensive map. If you are familiar with project management or software development, this process is similar to the agile methodology. The parallel lies in the idea of continually iterating and refining the map through research, analysis, and communication with customers.

  • Empathize – Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What are the scenarios in which you, as the customer, would identify the need for a product? For example, a customer journey map of a grocery store may identify “customer recognizes need for food and requires re-stocking of supplies” as a scenario that may be the starting point of the customer journey. What is the process of getting to the product and interacting with it? What happens after this interaction?
  • Research – Based on information you already have, look into patterns that your customers have already exhibited. You could find these through analytics on your website, interactions with retailers at the front end, feedback surveys sent out to clients, and more. This information would help you understand starting points, middle points, and end points of your customer’s journey with your product/service.
  • Create – After identifying all the points of contact and information on research, begin to create your map. Consider drafting a comprehensive list of questions your consumers may have in every process of engagement and determining how answers to those questions fit within the journey. Have we made it easy for customers to obtain the information they need?
  • Present – After all the hard work has been done, pass it through different departments within the company to get feedback. Bring in customers and form a focus group, ask questions about their experience, present your map and listen to their feedback.
  • Reiterate – Based on the feedback they provide, rework the map until it reflects the true customers journey and use this to make changes to the processes within the company. This map is a living document; it will change over time as trends change and other disruptive technologies emerge. Never stop trying to refine the journey.

There are a few ways you can go about actually creating this map. You can either use a physical board in your office with post-it (sticky) notes or you can use a few digital tools. A great tool to use is the canvanizer. It helps you digitally map out your customer journey map. It can then be printed or sent as is for feedback.

customer journey map canvas

Have you mapped out your customer’s journey? How has it impacted how your company operates? Leave a comment and let us know.

If you would love to discuss creative ways to learn about customers, send us an email at team@sproxil.com

Customers and Mobile Coupons

If you have ever watched the show Extreme Couponing, you would truly get a chance to witness some consumers’ appreciation of loyalty programs. While it is debatable how loyal these customers become in these extreme couponing situations, it does drive sales at the point of purchase. In fact, loyalty programs have become a huge part of any forward thinking B2C company’s marketing mix. And if done right, these initiatives can enable a company to maintain and expand its existing customer base, create strong brand advocates  and increase the customer lifetime value (CLV). Coupons specifically are also known to improve awareness of products, increase shopping frequency and help drive purchasing preferences.

mobile couponing sproxil

There is no doubt that companies have reported the benefits of having loyalty programs integrated into their initiatives. For example, large department stores that offer point cards for a chance to save on a future purchase are more likely to see an increase in overall sales and commitment from each customer.

Points-based systems (via loyalty cards) and paper couponing are great to have but in the ever-changing and competitive world of technology, companies who want to stay ahead of the curve should consider how mobile phones can be integrated. Most customers (not including those who are extreme couponers) are more likely to leave their homes with their mobile phones than they are with paper coupons. These days, retail stores have gotten creative in how they get their customers to sign up: cashiers can entice you with mobile coupons and alerts in your email by offering a certain percentage off at the point of purchase just for providing your email to them. Some companies send their customers coupons when they have downloaded their apps as another way to incentivize them. Mobile coupons are also a creative way for companies to build their databases. If you get customers to sign up with their location and email, you can build a database of customers by location, create target customer profiles and predict what products are in demand in certain locations. This information can help you craft loyalty marketing programs based on your findings.

Loyalty marketing programs have so many benefits, and executing them through mobile can give you an extra advantage over your more traditional competitors. If you would like to discuss creative ways on how to implement mobile-based loyalty marketing programs into your current initiatives, send us an email team@sproxil.com

 

Sproxil and mHealth Company Partner to Empower Consumers in Saudi Arabia

mhealthsproxil saudi arabia

Sproxil and mHealth Company Partner to Empower Consumers in Saudi Arabia

Award-Winning Technology Will Engage and Protect Consumers through Mobile Devices

Cambridge, MA (July 8, 2015) – Sproxil®, a leading global provider of innovative brand protection and loyalty solutions, and Mobile Health Management Company (mHealth Company), a pioneer within the mobile healthcare space in Saudi Arabia, have established a partnership to bring Sproxil’s award-winning Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) technology to the Saudi Arabian market. mHealth Company will offer MPA alongside its suite of mHealth services, including the YourHealth® tool, which allows users to subscribe to receive interactive content on healthy living in multiple languages.

MPA is offered free of cost (where applicable) to consumers and provides them with the ability to differentiate between fake and genuine goods that are sold in stores and open-air marketplaces. The technology helps consumers avoid counterfeit products, which may contain ingredients or components that are harmful to their health and safety. Additionally, consumers can opt-in to receive promotional offers, content, and rewards from their favorite brands that use the MPA platform, all through their mobile phone. The technology, available on any mobile device and on the web, protects products across multiple industries around the world, including pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, electrical cabling, automotive parts and home goods. MPA has received worldwide recognition for its impact on anti-counterfeiting in emerging markets and is widely trusted by leading pharmaceutical companies to curb the multi-billion dollar counterfeit drug industry.

“mHealth Company is a premiere health resource in Saudi Arabia and a leader in the Middle East for leveraging mobile phone technology to support and promote healthier lifestyles,” states Alden Zecha, CFO and Strategist at Sproxil. “Having the opportunity to work with the organization gives us a strong advantage in the region. Through this partnership, we look forward to enabling greater consumer empowerment and engagement with mobile technology in Saudi Arabia.”

“Sproxil’s mission to improve quality of life through innovative technology solutions parallels our own goals as an organization,” states Dr. Hamad Al Omar, Chairman at mHealth Company. “We are enthusiastic about partnering with a company that shares our focus on using mobile technology to advocate information sharing. We firmly believe in Sproxil’s business and are excited to be promoting its adoption in Saudi Arabia.”

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About Sproxil

Sproxil® is an ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certified social enterprise that uses mobile technology to combat counterfeiting and increase brand equity with innovative, consumer-focused product protection and targeted marketing solutions. Its award-winning Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) service helps ensure goods are not counterfeit or compromised, empowering consumers to verify product genuineness by SMS, mobile app, web or voice. Compatible with any tangible item, MPA is widely used by leading pharmaceutical companies to curb the multi-billion dollar counterfeit drug industry. MPA also protects products across multiple industries, including personal care, automotive aftermarket parts and electrical cables. The company has been recognized globally for its efforts against counterfeiting and is endorsed by regulatory bodies in Nigeria and Kenya. Sproxil received the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 2013 Patents for Humanity Award in Information Technology, the 2010 IBM SmartCamp Boston Award and the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award. In 2013, Sproxil was named the most innovative company in healthcare and #7 overall by Fast Company Magazine. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, Sproxil has operations in India, Ghana (serving West Africa), Kenya (serving East Africa), Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, with the ability to execute projects on six major continents.

About MPA

MPA is simple to use and can be accessed by any mobile phone. Before purchasing a product, the consumers scratch a label to reveal a unique, one-time use code. They then SMS text the code to a secure number provided on the product package. Within seconds, Sproxil notifies the end user, via SMS, of the result. Alternatively, end users can verify using Sproxil’s iOS, Android, and Blackberry mobile apps, by web, or through the company’s call center to get results in their local language. The company provides the most channels to verify products instantly.

For more information and a full list of Sproxil’s solution suite, please visit www.sproxil.com.

 

About mHealth Company

Established in 2008, Mobile Health Management Company Ltd. (mHC) is a pioneering leader in the use of Mobile Phone Technology to provide subscribers with trusted, accurate health information, innovative and interactive health tools, or what is now referred to as mHealth. As part of their suite of mobile technology services, mHC provides a proprietary mHealth platform for delivery of health care content, consultation services via SMS and calls, social media management, medical call centers and develops mobile apps such as Appllist for health education; Qareeboon for mental health education and psychological consultations, and Sehhatak Mobile Services, first launched in partnership with STC. mHC brings together a diverse team of highly committed consultant physicians, patient educators, nutritionists, experienced health planners, and computer technologies.

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Contact:

Meliza Mitra, Global Marketing Manager, Sproxil

Meliza.mitra@sproxil.com

+1 209 877 7694

Read Press Release in Arabic Click here

The Importance of Track and Trace and Product Verification in the Pharmaceutical Industry

In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal’s Logistics Report, Andrew Stevens, a Research Director at Gartner, Inc., urged supply-chain providers to develop and adopt solutions that can combat the $200 billion counterfeit pharmaceutical industry.

Counterfeiters producing fake pharmaceuticals have developed sophisticated techniques to replicate the appearance of pills and packaging, tricking consumers into thinking that their products are made by legitimate, registered companies. Stevens further warns that some counterfeiters “even can mimic IT verification web portals used by manufacturers.” Although Stevens recognizes counterfeiter’s ability to stay keep up with brand protection trends, he believes that track and trace and product verification are two important ways to curtail the counterfeit pharmaceutical industry.

Stevens’s article appeared just after INTERPOL executed Operation Pangea VIII. From June 9-16, 115 countries and 236 agencies participated in a worldwide effort to combat the sale of illegal medicines online. As a result of the operation, a record 20.7 million fake and illicit medicines worth over $81 million were seized. These fake and illicit medicines included blood pressure medication, erectile dysfunction pills, cancer medication and nutritional supplements. Operation Pangea VIII also resulted in 2,410 websites related to the selling illegal and illicit medicines being taken offline.

Serialization techniques like track and trace and consumer-level product verification allow pharmaceutical companies to monitor their products across the entire supply chain, from manufacture to consumption. As a result, pharmaceutical companies can have transparency on their shipments, make sure that their products are not stolen and sold illegally, and help consumers ensure that they only buy genuine medicine from legitimate, registered companies.

Stevens concludes the article by stating that “product integrity, quality and full end-to-end supply chain traceability are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but becoming a prerequisite for both industry and consumers alike.” As an experienced service provider for brand protection solutions, we completely agree. Our award-winning Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) and Cascading Authentication™ track-and-trace solutions have been supporting the brand protection initiatives of both large multi-national pharmaceutical companies and local pharmaceutical businesses. Our solutions also protect products across other industries, as we work with businesses around the world including electrical goods, FMCG, and automotive companies.

What other solutions can pharmaceutical companies use to curtail the counterfeit pharmaceutical industry? Please let us know in the comments.

Counterfeit Liquor and its Effects

Recently, the BBC reported that over over 100 people in India died as a result of ingesting counterfeit liquor. The source of the manufactured counterfeit liquor has yet to be identified, but this incident highlights a growing problem in the country. Many poor residents choose cheaper products and thus end up consuming substandard liquor, which can be laced with dangerous chemicals to give it its kick. This can result in extreme health issues such as blindness and can even lead to death.

According to the BBC, India has witnessed a number of cases where people have died from fake liquor:

  • Nearly 170 people died in 2011 in the eastern state of West Bengal
  • At least 30 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh in September 2009
  • More than 100 people were killed in Gujarat in July 2009

alcohol_beer_bottle_273252

The situation is not unique to India. Last year, in Kenya, dozens of people died from illegal brew. In the UK, holiday seasons see a rise in counterfeit liquors like vodka.

What can be done to combat illegal liquor sales?

Consumer Education: Consumers need to be made aware of the dangers of consuming products that are not approved by the food and drug safety organizations within their country. Online resources like Drink Aware can help consumers be vigilant about the products they purchase. Alcohol companies should also provide consumer education resources to protect and empower their customers.

Law Enforcement: Government must be proactive and reactive. Laws should be in place to discourage counterfeiting and enforcement must be consistent. When caught, perpetrators must be subjected to strong laws that serve as a warning for others not to dabble in illegal business. There must also be a conscious effort on the part of the food and drug safety organizations to follow up on the enforcement of the law to deal appropriately with criminals.

Serialization: Although many legitimate liquor companies have a serialization strategy, if this is enforced as a standard and stores are not allowed to sell products without a serial number, then it may enable the food and safety organizations weed out the substandard products from the market.

What are other solutions to solve the problem of fakes? Leave a comment about it.

Note: This blogpost serves to educate readers about the dangers of fake products such as alcohol as a means to empower readers to make more informed purchasing decisions. This post is not taking a stance on general alcohol consumption. For any questions or concerns, please email team@sproxil.com

 

Sproxil Selected for the Social Innovation in Health Initiative Program

Tuberculosis and Malaria affects over 3 billion people globally. These diseases have been largely neglected for a long time till recently. Numerous organizations are partnering to eradicate these diseases completely from the countries they still exist in.

The Social Innovation in Health Initiative is an international collaboration between the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University and TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, hosted at the World Health Organization in Geneva. SIHI selected Sproxil as an innovative organization creatively employing technology to tackle aspects of eradicating these tropical diseases.

The SIHI program selected Sproxil and the other 24 organizations because they believe the healthcare and social innovation communities can learn much from the unique case studies each company has undergone. For more information on the Social Innovation in Health Initiative program, check out their website here http://healthinnovationproject.org

social innovation health initiative

Image Source : http://healthinnovationproject.org

The Pharma Hack

Last week, while looking at various restaurant websites and trying to decide where to order takeout, I noticed that one restaurant’s website displayed links to buy various pharmaceuticals. The restaurant itself does not conduct any business selling pharmaceuticals, yet its website is marketing pharmaceuticals. This strange mismatch is probably the work of the infamous Pharma Hack.

The Pharma Hack is a scheme to drive search engine rankings of illegitimate online pharmacies’ websites by taking advantage of legitimate SEO practices, thus increasing the likelihood that searchers will visit their websites and purchase their products. To do this, hackers place links to the illegitimate online pharmacies on other websites. The links can be placed on the website for viewers to click (just like the restaurant’s website) or can be hidden in the website code. In either case, the links are always visible to search engine crawlers. Since the number of times a website’s link appears on other websites factors into how search engines rank results, illegitimate online pharmacies’ websites achieve higher rankings and resultantly are more likely to be visited by searchers. Furthermore, hackers can manipulate links to illegitimate pharmacies to appear as title tags under an external website’s search result, potentially duping searchers into thinking that they have been directed to one website when they have actually been redirected to an illegitimate online pharmacy’s website.

Although online pharmacies boast cheaper prices for pharmaceuticals than regular pharmacies and maintain the confidentiality that some patients desire, most are not in the consumers’ best interests. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has reviewed more than 11,000 online pharmacies and found that 96% “appear to be operating in conflict with pharmacy laws and practice standards.” In addition, online pharmacies are often outlets for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which contain the incorrect amount of active ingredients (if present at all) as well as fillers that range in toxicity from cornstarch to rat poison.

While legitimate online pharmacies do exist, it can be very difficult to find them amongst the sea of fake sites. A previous Sproxil blog post highlighted how to spot illegitimate online pharmacies, but as depicted by the Pharma Hack, fake online pharmacies are always discovering ways to appear legitimate. Remember, just because an online pharmacy has a high search engine ranking, does not mean that it is a legitimate website.

What other hacks have you seen counterfeiters use to dupe consumers online? Tell us in the comments section.

Three Ingredients That Can Increase Brand Equity

While a brand’s success is dependent on many factors, one of the most important considerations is the brand’s ability communicate to customers and potential customers in a memorable and impactful way. A company must consider branding strategies that would resonate with its current market but can evolve and remain culturally relevant. This is no easy feat: some companies have large, creative powerhouses within the organization that focus solely on making the brand relevant and others do not have the capability in house and must tap into external expertise. While both methods can be effective, companies must consider  maintaining strong brand equity includes these key ingredients:

Increasing Brand Equity

Small Data – Today, having a keen understanding of your consumers’ preferences and behaviors and tailoring your products or services to meet those needs is standard. Making each customer interaction feel personalized and unique can set you apart from your competitors. While big picture trends are important to understand, it is also important to collect small data about your consumers as often as possible so that you can interact in a way that’s most meaningful and personalized to them. For example, learning that a potential customer has done research on products like yours, gone through your website, and went so far as to place a product in your e-cart gives you an opportunity to win them over. Perhaps you send them a friendly reminder email and a coupon to use in order to persuade them to make a purchase. This could be the difference between a sale or a forgotten cart.

Consistency – Customers are drawn to a consistent and strong brand image. Consider Apple. Everyone can quickly recognize the logo, its devices, and its UI – the brand’s look is consistent. When Apple comes out with a new device or technology, their standards for design and focus on the user also remain consistent. This consistency and dedication to their brand image reflect their values as a company. These values, when aligned with the values of its customers can create brand advocates. Additionally, when a brand is also consistent with its communication, it creates expectations of how people can interact and engage with that brand. When it is inconsistent, it can create confusion, which can lead to negative experiences. Brand message consistency should also remain amidst any crisis. During a negative, brand impacting event, maintaining a consistent message can reaffirm trust toward a brand. (We wrote a blogpost previously on how to handle a brand during a crisis.)

Quality – Developing a successful branding strategy without focusing on the quality of the product is fruitless. If the quality promised by the brand do not match the actual quality of the product, consumer expectations are not met and they are less likely to trust the brand. Missed expectations can create poor word of mouth, leading to a bad reputation. Today, word of mouth is more important than ever. We live in a peer-review based society where word of mouth can be stronger than any advertising campaign. By creating quality products, you create brand advocates. Brand advocates serve as powerful, free marketing for your brand. Brand advocates can also be created through loyalty and rewards programs that provide incentives for purchases. That said, loyalty programs for poor quality products cannot sustain itself. Thus, the focus of product quality must not be lost when considering your branding strategy.

The three ingredients above are just some of the many factors that play into a brand’s ability to set itself apart from competitors. What would you include in your recipe for brand equity success?

To learn more about how Sproxil can help increase your brand equity, send an email to team@sproxil.com

recipe for brand equity success