Incopro in China

In 2017 Incopro established an office in Shanghai. Incopro COO, Helen Saunders explains the significance of this in helping protect our clients from counterfeiting and IP infringements.

Throughout history China has been associated with many of the greatest structures, dynasties, ideas and traditions. From the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors, through to the bright lights and technology in today’s Beijing and Shanghai. Last year, Incopro arrived in China and established an office in Shanghai, with the hope of creating our own dynasty as we further expand our operations around the world.

There are a number of reasons that persuaded us that expansion in China and a strong presence in the region moving forward was a big bonus for us:

Counterfeiting hotspot

It is no surprise to anyone that China has been known for many years as a counterfeiting hotspot. According to the World Customs Organisation (WCO), around 70% of counterfeit products seized between 2008-2010 globally came from China. Looking at the US alone that number rises to 87%. Having a presence in the region allows us to keep up with the counterfeiting behaviours and look more closely at how counterfeiters’ business models work in the country.

Interestingly, as China’s position as a new source of globally recognised brands, such as Huawei, their brands have been hit by domestic counterfeiting. This opens up a whole new angle to counterfeiting in the country and understanding this from the inside will mean that we can also help to protect Chinese brands who are targeted.

Given the developing trade war between China and the United States, it is also vital to have a view from the inside of both countries to fully understand the impact of these measures. Whilst increased trade tariffs on both sides may have the desired impact, there are clear side-effects that are beneficial to counterfeiters. Counterfeit goods are not necessarily hit by these tariffs as they take advantage of unofficial trade channels. Add to that the demand for products is still high and needs to be fulfilled and you have a great lure for both businesses and consumers to fall for counterfeit items at cheaper than import prices. Seeing this unfold on both sides of the world is key.

Cultural awareness

For anyone that has visited China, it is fascinating to see the explosion of e-commerce in the country, with a large reliance on messaging apps with payment functionality such as We-Chat, not seen in other countries. Buying a coffee from a street stall is done with a mobile payment and not cash.  Flash sales via WeChat are also something Chinese consumers embrace.

Understanding these behaviours is vital in understanding both how infringers conduct their business and how consumers seek out counterfeit products. This also comes from understanding the language and slang terms specific to the way that business is conducted within a country. Having this local knowledge ensures that there are no oversights in our operations and helps us to make sure our clients receive the most comprehensive protection available.

A recent example of how this local knowledge benefitted one of our clients, involved a listing found with a price that appeared genuine. The text in the image that accompanied the listing actually explained the actual selling price was 1% of the advertised price.  Our analysts were able to prioritise these listings as a threat to the client and successfully work to get them removed.

Building relationships with platforms

Some of the world’s biggest online marketplaces are based in China, for example Alibaba, Aliexpress, DHGate and Taobao. To ensure we provide our clients with the most comprehensive protection available online it is important to work closely with these marketplaces and ensure we develop close working relationships.  In the example of the “1% listing” just mentioned, our analysts used the relationship they have with the platform to explain the issue and ensure that action was taken.

With many marketplaces in China currently trying to implement proactive measures to enforce as early as possible against infringements, having a physical presence in China is essential to ensure we are able to join those conversations.  Being able to visit these key platforms and discuss the challenges faced by the platform, the brand and ourselves in trying to protect them is hugely beneficial to all parties.  We were delighted that the strength of our relationships with platforms such as DHGate and WeChat was evident when representatives from both platforms co-presented with us at this year’s INTA conference in Seattle.

Presence in the wider region

Having a presence in China gives Incopro a foothold in the wider south-east Asia region. Whilst China is still the most prolific counterfeiting country in the world, there has been an interesting trend emerging where centres of counterfeit manufacture are moving to surrounding countries such as Vietnam.  Being able to monitor this trend from within the region is helpful in being able to provide this intelligence to our clients.

Another benefit of being in the region is that the time difference allows us to better support our globally distributed clients.  Alongside our offices in the United Kingdom and the United States, having an office in the Asia region allows us offer customer support in all time zones around the world, ensuring any issues are dealt with in a timely manner.

Free brand health check

If you think you have an infringement problem with your brand, or that your current vendor has oversights in their protection strategy, you can request a free brand health check from our analyst team today. We’ll run your brand through our Talisman system for a few days and provide an overview of listings found, key platforms, key regions and a potential revenue benefit from having an effective intelligence led strategy in place.

Request your free brand health check now

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