Counterfeit on Instagram

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I’ve noticed new counterfeit accounts popping up on Instagram over the past few months. Below is screenshots taken from one example account focused on The North Face as a brand.

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Interesting photoshoot shots probably re-grammed from the brands marketing materials or a magazine shoot. Looking at these pictures they maybe from marketing materials aimed at the Japanese market. Why Japan? It makes live easier for the counterfeiters in a number of ways

  • The sites are likely built by people who read Chinese as their first language. That means that a lot of Japanese writing is somewhat intelligible to them
  • Japanese marketing teams tend to do better photoshoots
  • Japan has a reputation for Japan market only exclusive products that are more attractive than those sold in Europe. The North Face’s Purple Label and Black Label lines started out as Japan market exclusives

When you move from the Instagram account and go through to the site to buy your items….

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You come through to a great convincing looking site design. Only the URL (northfacew.com) and the artificially low prices give away the counterfeit nature of the goods on sale. For customers that aren’t as sophisticated Facebook now has its classifieds section. Think Gumtree but inside Facebook. That provides a great opportunity for your more traditional local sellers of snide goods.

Here’s a second example of counterfeit product on Instagram. This time they are counterfeit versions of A Bathing Ape (BAPE) streetwear label and their iconic shark head hooded top.

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This time they are selling the products through Amazon merchants accounts. While Amazon would kill to have premium and luxury streetwear brands like BAPE and Supreme on their website. That isn’t going to happen due to these brands embracing the ‘drop’ model of limited product disruption.

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Instagram has a lot of heat from brands, but this could turn very quickly when they realise that Instagram can be a facilitator of counterfeit products sales. This could shimmy a lot of brand advertising on Instagram

Look at how Alibaba and eBay have been vilified in the past. The Amazon merchant scheme like eBay should be doing more against these vendors, which are predominantly small to medium sized Chinese companies.  If this was 30 years ago, these goods would have been coming from similar companies in Thailand and South Korea.