At last Sunday’s Indiblogger meet by HP in Bangalore innovatively titled #OriginalCopy (an amazing misnomer), this was the topic thrown at the crowd by the HP person speaking to us — original vs. fake. Companies and brands face the biggest challenge from counterfeit goods especially in these times of recession. They spend the money building a good product, in generating brand awareness and then they are ripped off when people go ahead and buy fake goods.

Before we see how this problem must be tackled, let us understand why counterfeit goods have a market in the first place. And mind you it is not the uneducated or the poor who buy these but those who can afford it but opt for the fake stuff. Pirated videos, movies and music, fake Tees, shoes, cellphones, electronic goods, accessories etc. — nothing is untouched. Then there is another kind of piracy that affects people like us bloggers and writers and that is plagiarism. Here one’s work is blatantly lifted – posts, pictures, and stories and carefully manipulated, sometimes blatantly claimed as one’s own. It hurts the original writer a lot – sometimes financially mostly emotionally. Most people don’t mind their information to be reshared as long as they get credit for the same. Is it not fair to expect that?

From the point of view of products, these factors cause people to buy fakes:

Cost: The fakes are much cheaper in terms of cost. An HP printer cartridge starts at Rs. 499 today. A fake refill can cost you as little as Rs. 100. Downloaded music and movies are almost free of cost. “Nike” T-shirts sell for peanuts on the streets. Pirated books are sold at every railway station and on the streets at dirt cheap prices. Once you’ve brought the Printer or the razor at a reasonable price, you then have to churn out huge price for the reusable components like cartridges and blades.

Easy availability: Some branded products and accessories are not that easily available. Pirated goods are smartly marketed camouflaging the long term damage they can do to your health (buying a fake sports shoe) or to your printer (buying a fake cartridge).

Ethics: Some people feel that it is okay to buy a substandard product if it is cheap. In their opinion, the company is anyway just ripping them off by pricing their products very high. Do they really want to say that a good shoe costs over 3K because of the quality of the components? Or are they asking the consumers to bear the brunt of their marketing expenses, glitzy showrooms, overheads and money paid to celebrities to endorse their products? This delusion or distrust also leads people to not care about seeking or buying original products.

Quality: Now some people prefer fake products because the only difference they see in the original and the fake one is the difference in price. I mean, does a brand logo on a T-shirt really justify that high a price or would you rather buy a fake one at a fraction of a price in the fake form? It all depends upon the price perception and the related functionality of a product.

Difficult to differentiate: Some people get conned into buying fake products because they look almost similar to the original ones like fake drugs or branded cosmetics. In this case, the consumers are paying the original price of a branded product and being sold a substandard fake one.

How to tackle this menace at the level of the company:

Generate awareness: Use platforms and informative campaigns to create awareness. For eg. I did not know that HP cartridge prices had come down so much. Expand distribution and better still they have a Dial-a-cartridge now which is very handy. Also make people aware that at Rs. 499 each cartridge gives 600 printouts. Thus per page, one pays only slightly more than a Rupee per page of superior quality printout. Now that is an attractive feature. If you take a printout outside your home, you pay minimum Rs. 5 per page. Hence the cartridge is not really as pricey as we thought it was. Also, it comes with a tamper-proof seal that ensures that it is the real deal. Propagate knowledge about how your expensive printer’s life is reduced because you want to save a few pennies by using fake cartridges. You don’t save money when you buy a cheap fake, you end up spending more in the long term.

Price reduction and sales: We Indians love sales. That explains the huge crowds at sales that premium stores have at regular intervals. This helps the customers to stock on their favorite brands at lower prices. Just like HP did with cartridges or designers do with pret fashion, it is important to realize that there are many people who aspire to own a brand but just can’t afford it or don’t want to pay very high prices. When the prices are brought down, the original products are preferred. Pricing of recurring use accessories like batteries, cartridges, razor blades etc. must be relooked at from the point of view of end consumer. 

Give a human face to the organization: Highlight the humanitarian efforts of your organization. Spread awareness about your green products and recycling initiatives, the causes you support for kids, elders, environment etc. Let the people see the human face behind the brand. That will encourage them in supporting your original products.

Highlight product supremacy: Create awareness about the features of a sports shoe that protects from long term injury. Similarly highlight the fit and material quality and stitching for apparel. Let people see the difference for themselves. A pirated movie can never match an original DVD in terms of experience quality. Seeing is believing. Show them how fakes are not delivering. Prove to them that it is indeed more “expensive” to use a fake in terms of health problems while using a sports shoe or bad and wasted or smudged printouts and damage to printer while using a fake cartridge.

Protective seals: Introduce product registration, QR coding, holograms etc. to make it harder for the counterfeiters to keep up with their fake designs. Highlight these for the people so that they know how to check for the original product. This will help prevent people getting conned and original products being bought.

Legal remedies: Having cells that keep an eye on couterfeit products, joining hands with others in the campaign, lobbying for stricter laws and enforcement will also help in curtailing the menace.

As far as plagiarism in writing is concerned, generating awareness, using copyright protective tools like copyscape.com, reaching out to the offender, public naming on social media are some ways that can help you safeguard your copyright. Though, plagiarism is an evil whose life is far from over.

I round up by saying that Be Original Buy Original!

You are I are hurting the economy, doing something illegal and buying poor quality substandard stuff that is not even delivering the quality that we expect them to when we buy fakes. Be cautious, protect your rights as a consumer and make an informed choice in buying original products!

Imitation is a form of flattery, it is said. Not when it takes away what belongs to you blatantly and unabashedly and harms what you have toiled to build with your sweat and blood!

 

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53 Thoughts on “Original vs. Fake!

  1. Originals always come with a quality and a promise of good after sales service. Fake may be cheaper but are way inferior in quality and don’t last long.

    Good article Rachna!

  2. Rachna on January 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm said:

    Thank you Meenakshi!

  3. Gurdev on January 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm said:

    I have personally seen HP`s replacement policy on cartridges. They promise to replace a cartridge if it has stopped working before the promised number of prints. They did just that for me when my printer acted funny soon after I bought a new cartridge. The only problem is that such service centers are far and few in the city. You might waste half a day finding them and getting your replacement. Sometimes they might ask you to come back as they might not have the stock 🙁

    • Rachna on January 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm said:

      They apparently have a Dial-a-cartridge service that I’ve mentioned above and they promise to deliver a cartridge home in 6-8 hours. That takes care of our angst. We can call customer care and check if the service person can be sent home.

  4. Informative post Rachna. Any where original is better. By opting for fakes, we tend to spend twice as much .

  5. How is a pirated CD/ VCD poor quality compared to original?I am not supporting piracy,but,in my opinion there isn’t any difference between the two in terms of quality.Unless,there are enough laws in place to prosecute the guilty ,this subject will remain a topic of discussion in conferences

    • Rachna on January 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm said:

      With due respect, I tend to disagree. The crystal clear picture quality and sound of the original just cannot be matched by pirated CDs that are being sold on streets. Even the best downloaded movies from the net cannot compare to the pleasure of watching the original. It is another thing that people compromise an experience to save pennies. Law enforcement is important for sure. It is like the chicken and egg story. Will it be laws that goad us to do the right thing. I think ethically too we must abstain from supporting counterfeits.

  6. I have seen that paying extra for the original is always wise since one can’t ever be sure of the quality of a fake. For that reason, I spend huge amounts in AMC of my appliances and electrical goods too. At least I can call the company if there is a problem, even if I am just paying for the comfort feeling that I have a genuine back up. Sometimes it is hard to spot the fake though, since they are getting smarter with labeling and packaging.

    • Rachna on January 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm said:

      True Zephyr! There are no guarantees and the product is of course substandard and sometimes harmful. On the face of it, it looks economical, but it really is not! I also prefer AMC and genuine parts of any appliances that I use. Yes, conning the customer is a problem and for that many of them have product registration, security seals, codes etc. More needs to be done here for sure.

  7. I opened this post hoping to read about the meet but instead found it to be a info packed post 🙂

    • Rachna on January 24, 2013 at 9:07 pm said:

      hehe Bhagyashree, others have captured the meet really well. You may read Sid’s posts along with others in the experience tab of the meet on Indiblogger.

  8. Rachna,

    All I will say is MEHNGAA ROYE EK BAAR, SASTAA ROYT BAAR BARR.

    Take care

  9. Great article and reminder to us all how going the “cheap” route hurts both producer and consumer in the long run.
    Blessings!

  10. great post Rachna… I am laughing at the proverb above ” Mehnga roye……” my dad would say this all the time, especially if we ever happened to talk him into going to Chor Bazar in Mumbai 🙂

  11. I don’t think manufacturers (whether of goods or intellectual property) have done a good job explaining to the consumer that obtaining fakes at cheaper or no cost is akin to stealing. Most people wouldn’t break into other people’s homes and flick stuff – they understand that stealing is wrong. They just don’t make that connection about stealing from the manufacturer.
    Plus, policing is pretty abysmal in many parts of the world, including India, and so all this is so rampant here.

    • Perhaps companies need to do a better job of explaining stealing to the customers. But then ethics has always been a slippery issue with Indians. As a culture, we try to find an easy and cheaper way at the cost of the right thing to do whether it is products, services or even wiggling out of a traffic ticket. Policing is an issue for sure. The counterfeiters bribe them to keep them appeased. It again boils down to the issue of corruption and ethics being tied together.

  12. 🙂 I am loving the new look on your blog, Rachna!

    Great meeting you again. Now we really must plan our own meet! 🙂

    Loved the post 🙂 Such an important message!

    • Thank you Vidya. Moved to self hosting after being inspired by Corinne, Zephyr and you. Great meeting you too. Sure, we will plan a lovely get together. It was so much fun.

  13. i used to go after fake products too years back . . but then a few reality bites brought me back to the senses . . nothing more cost effective than the original product from the brand . . nice article 🙂

  14. We did have fun. Great read. 🙂

  15. Nicely written as always.
    The goods are not necessarily divided into original branded and fake. There is another category cheaper substitute. While the garishly rich and the neo affluent would buy branded goods irrespective of high cost, the many who are not well heeled or poor would prefer cheaper substitutes with equal quality without of course the brand name. For example Paracetamol is sold in several names often to distinguish them by adding another component not necessarily important. The generic substitute costs a fraction of branded goods but is no less effective.
    There are those who are status conscious and snobbish variety who cannot pay the high price of branded good. There are the willing prey for the fakes sold with branded name There are the gullible who thing branded is always superior and hurt themselves by paying more. Not all unbranded or cheaper substitutes harmful. All shoes one buys need not be Bata or jeans of Levis. Equally good quality is available at cheaper rates. The price of branded materials has no relation to cost of making. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value” Thomas Paine
    Care however should be taken we buy quality goods and quality is not the exclusive preserve of branded goods .Celebrities through advertisements add brand value but not to the quality of the good. Avoid harmful fakes but go for cheaper and equally effective substitutes would be my tip.

    • Rachna on January 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm said:

      KP Sir, I agree about the generic drugs. I had done an article about that as well. When the components are the same, it makes no sense to pay more for a brand name. Yes, all shoes need not be Nike or jeans Levi’s. But, there is a quality difference that I can talk from personal experience. I am a regular walker and I do take care to go for good quality branded shoes. A long time back I had bought a cheaper brand which was quite lousy. I also have a pair of jeans from Lee which is almost a decade, but the fit, quality of stitching, material is excellent. I cannot say the same about cheaper jeans that I have bought at other retail stores. The zippers are stiff and sometimes tacky. So, I would buy a good brand. And, they aren’t that expensive either. I don’t see any merit in buying expensive designer clothes, bags or dress shoes. I am happy with less expensive stuff there. But, what one needs to avoid is harmful fakes that can cause damage in the long run just like you pointed out. I agree that overheads and advertising costs add a lot to the end price that every consumer might not be willing to pay. A company has to strike a judicious balance there. Thank you so much for your insightful comment.

  16. Very informative post Rachna. Fakes are everywhere to be found. And it sometimes is difficult to even spot it. I once bought a renowned brand’s cream from a chemist which is also a very well known chain and it turned out to be fake.

    And btw, I received the notification about the new post so I guess your old feed is working fine 🙂

  17. A wonderfully informative post! True, original is the best and fakes are poor substitutes.

  18. Nice to have met you der Rachna.. so, so long, eh?

    I personally liked the HP Original premise – it was very informative and liked the way they connected with a cost conscious nation like us.

    Earlier i had gone thru a similar campaign on online piracy that didn’t really cut ice with me.

    This one rocked! 🙂

    Lovely post Rachna… glad to be back 🙂

    fc*klove

    • Good meeting you too at the meet, Raj! Happy to see you hear. I have personally been a victim of plagiarism. It hurts when your original work is ripped off. Thank you for your comment.

  19. Nice information Rachna.

  20. Very well summed up.
    We will hopefully meet at the next event.

  21. Some call it duplicate, instead of fake. I think if it as good as the real one and does no harm (in the name of safety) then why not. Like you said the “original” guy has priced it high due to his additional overhead expenses.

    • Personally I feel piracy is wrong. And, if we continue to buy pirated VCDs, we are harming an industry and even ourselves by promoting the mafias behind them. I also don’t support con jobs like duplicate medicines, cosmetics, cartridges etc. What I do support is generic drugs because they don’t do any harm. I would rather not buy a duplicate T shirt or shoe but buy an original and cheaper brand if I can’t afford the very expensive one that I’ve been coveting. I do agree that companies also need to understand the pulse of their customers. By pricing reusable accessories very high, they are pushing the customer towards looking for similar, cheaper options.

  22. you forgot to add about the LIVESTRONG band which originally cost Rs. 100 but you get that in market for Rs. 10 .. same goes for adibas .. sorry i mean adidas shoes or redbook .. typo reebok shoes as well 😛

  23. Sadly, when it comes to books, I don’t know how you stop people from buying the cheaper, footpath versions unless the printers who copy your creation have their printing press confiscated. I think online selling – like flipkart, Pothi etc have helped bring prices down as shops in busy shopping centres have to factor in the rent they pay etc. Just two aspects of a monumental problem.

    • Agree Kayem It is difficult to stop these cyclostyled version of books. Like you pointed out, good deals on online portals and online libraries are a step forward in that direction. I don’t think that people deliberately prefer fakes. They only go for it when their perceived price differentiation is too wide.

  24. Hi Rachna. Well analyzed and presented….Not just Indians, the whole world LOVES ‘SALES’ 😀 ….As you said, there is a price because there is quality….

  25. I strongly support original in both words and actions. Beautiful layout Rachna. Your blog looks superb. Best Wishes.

  26. I am bereft of words to describe the post and its contents, all reproduced to the T, missed interacting with you in the meet!

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