Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Fake licence products hurt ethical retailers

Mark Fletcher
September 18th, 2018 · 5 Comments

A competitor of one of my shops sells fake licence product for considerably less than the authentic licence products we sell. They have done it for some years.

While the landlord was unconcerned about fake products being sold in the centre, the licence holder was more engaged. However, they did not proceed with legal action because of the cost. The challenge was determining the source.

For licence holders it is a border force issue. Since the majority of containers coming into the country it is easy to get fake licence product into stores without the provenance being easily untangled.

At a recent gift trade show I saw the problem first-hand. There were a couple of suppliers with mid-tier licence products that were fake. By mid-tier, I mean not a popular licences as anything from Disney or similar. For sure the licences were strong and valuable, but not at a level or of a volume that the local licence representative would take action. and I think that is what they gamble on.

The challenge for retailers is being sure that what you stock is the real deal. Price is one way of checking. Branding and packaging are other ways. Another check you could do, if you have time, is at local indecent discount variety stores and independent tobacco shops. I have seen fake products in both types of stores.

in our marketing we pitch authenticity and we educate shoppers on how ton spot fakes in some product categories. In our experience, taking the high stand like this builds trust. This is important to return customers, those building collections within the licence.

Stocking licenced products can be a challenge because of unscrupulous retailers and importers. However, it can be worth it if you go in with your eyes open and have strong processes to counter fakes.


Category: Ethics · Newsagency management

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Sep 18, 2018 at 8:15 PM

    All you can do is put up a large notice on your shop window or prominent position in view of everyone pointing out that you only send genuine licenced products and you would not compromise your reputation foe a few extra dollar profits. Educate customers how to identify fakes and let them make the decision on where they buy the goods.


  • 2 Jonathan Wilson // Sep 19, 2018 at 5:42 PM

    There is a discount store near me that has been selling knock-off LEGO minifigures (a little box with a figure and accessories) from big-name licenses like Star Wars and Ninja Turtles and Batman.

    Comment I got from some random person when I pointed out they were fake was simply “so what, they are cheap” (or something to that effect)


  • 3 Lance // Sep 19, 2018 at 5:54 PM

    Apart from a report to the legitimate manufacturer, what can be done to help stop this practice ?
    A report will probably go nowhere as they are fully aware it’s happening but simply too difficult to stamp it out.
    Harley Davidson are deadly if you pirate their name and us it illegally. They have a section of their business that does nothing other than track down counterfeiters.


  • 4 Jonathan Wilson // Sep 20, 2018 at 4:52 PM

    The problem for the manufacturers is that many of the bootleg products are made in countries like China where IP enforcement is nearly impossible (there are allegations that the Chinese government is actively supporting the bootleggers although how true that is I dont know)


  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Sep 21, 2018 at 6:45 AM

    I have found some major shopping centre landlords good at dealing with this where it is one of their tenants selling fake products. I have also found a couple of major international suppliers prepared to fund legal action. However, these experiences are not the norm.


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