Manufacturers and brand owners today have access to tools and technologies that can help them protect their brands in the marketplace more effectively than they’ve ever been able to before. For example, a brand selling through online resale channels can now supplement its reseller pricing policy—a tool that has been around for many decades—with more modern solutions such as deploying the right brand protection software and signing up for Amazon Brand Registry.
But even with all of the right tools and strategies in place, your brand will continually face threats from many sources—sometimes even including your own resale partners. The reality is, no brand protection strategy can keep your brand 100% safe at all times.
With that in mind, here are a few harsh realities to keep in mind that can help your team stay vigilant against these ongoing threats to your brand.
1. Your brand’s interests are often in direct conflict with those of your distributors and retailers
One of your company’s primary business objectives is to preserve and grow the value of your brand. But that’s not a priority for your distributors and retail partners; they need to think about selling the inventory they’ve purchased from you, so they can turn a profit.
These conflicts of interest can play out in ways that damage your brand over the long term. For example, if a distributor finds it is having difficulty selling your inventory to your authorized dealers—perhaps the market has become temporarily saturated with your products—the company might be tempted to offload those products to gray-market sellers or other retailers not on your approved list.
2. Publishing your MAP pricing policy is only a first step in protecting your brand online
A common mistake that manufacturers make is to assume that after they’ve distributed their minimum advertised price (MAP) policy to their resale network, their work is done.
As a result, these manufacturers don’t implement any sort of monitoring or enforcement mechanisms to make sure their sales partners are in fact honoring the pricing policy. And that’s when the trouble begins.
Unfortunately, even an expertly drafted reseller pricing policy won’t do your brand much good if your retail partners are violating it. So, you need to think of the policy itself as only a first step in a much more comprehensive price-monitoring and enforcement strategy.
3. Amazon isn’t necessarily your brand’s ally
As the world’s largest retailer, Amazon can offer enormous business benefits to brands that know how to work effectively with the marketplace.
But just as we noted above that your brand’s interests aren’t always aligned with those of your distribution partners, it’s also important to understand your interests will in some cases be in conflict with the interests of Amazon.
The marketplace encourages as much competition as possible, for example. That means if you discover unauthorized third-party sellers advertising your products, Amazon won’t necessarily see this as the problem you do. In fact, Amazon often responds to brands that complain about this that distribution is the brand’s problem—and that Amazon itself views these additional sellers as a good thing, because it creates more options for consumers.
Nor will Amazon necessarily intervene if you complain that a seller is violating your MAP pricing. Here, too, the marketplace’s position is that pricing policies are between you and your resellers.
Amazon will take action to remove listings, however, if you can prove a seller is either offering counterfeit products or that they are illegally using your brand’s intellectual property.
The key takeaway here is to understand that Amazon is not one of your resale partners. It is a marketplace with its own business objectives and interests—and sometimes those interests will be in conflict with yours.
4. You can’t stop 100% of reseller misdeeds that could harm your brand
In the digital age, where anyone can place an order online and complete a transaction without face-to-face contact or even a phone call, it has become easy for rogue sellers to acquire inventory from a brand or its distributors—and then violate that brand’s policies to sell those products quickly.
It’s also become easy for a brand’s legitimate resale partners to disguise their identities when violating the company’s policies, so that the seller can maintain its favored status with the brand even while its misdeeds hurt the brand’s reputation.
This is similar to the ongoing threat business face from cybercriminals. Forward-thinking businesses can protect themselves by staying informed about the latest strategies of hackers, training their staff to be aware of the most common phishing tactics, and deploying state-of-the-art cybersecurity technologies. But these businesses never reach a moment where they can declare their work “done.” Staying ahead of cybercrime is a continuous battle.
In that same vein, you need to think of this fight to preserve your brand’s value as continuous and never-ending.
Brand Protection Help Is Available
Because protecting your brand requires you to fight so many battles simultaneously, and because your team probably doesn’t have the resources or in-house expertise to do it alone, one of the smartest strategies you can implement is to seek help from brand protection specialists. Talk to a TrackStreet Solution Architect today.