How to Protect Your Brand from Knock-Offs

Woman comparing lipsticks on camera

For brands, there’s no way to make attractive, high-quality products and not have someone trying to cash in on making something similar, but potentially lower quality. The good news is, brands can take steps to protect their reputation and products online. Keep reading to learn more. 

These days, you can find dupes, or duplicates, of nearly anything—from $600 hair-tool sets to trendy couches. It’s no surprise that a growing preference for shopping online, where customers can compare all of their options in one place, makes producing cheaper versions of popular products a profitable business. 

Adding to that, social media can make selling knockoffs a viral sensation. After all, shoppers today rely on heavily on reviews and word-of-mouth to evaluate products (since they can’t physically assess a product before buying it). 

As if that weren't enough, we now have a name for personalities who make their living selling knockoffs on social media:  deinfluencers.

Deinfluencer (n): a social media influencer who deinfluences or urges their viewers to avoid purchasing certain products

A New Social Media Trend: #Deinfluencing

You may have seen this trend make its rounds on TikTok (and subsequently Instagram Reels and other social channels). It involves content creators recommending “dupes,” or duplicates, of more expensive brands. 

We're probably not going to see this trend go away anytime soon. Economic woes continue to dominate the headlines and consumers are increasingly price sensitive. Plus, trust in social media influencers is waning thanks to an oversaturation of promoted posts—making “deinfluencing,” or recommending what not to buy, a tactic for for them to reclaim that trust. 

How to Build a Resilient Brand

You might initially think deinfluencing is a threat to your brand, especially since creators will suggest another product to buy in the same breath as they denounce yours. But consider this: deinfluencers are, after all, another form of influencer, with the goal of getting people to buy a product. It’s important to recognize the reason your product is being criticized. 

For example, if your product is desirable but expensive,  you may see lower cost versions being promoted. With strong branding, your products can benefit from being compared against "value" versions. The fact that knockoffs exist shows that consumers would much rather have the real thing if they could afford it, and are more likely to upgrade when their incomes grow or budgets allow. 

Here’s how we check if a brand can stand up to the deinfluencer test. Strong brands are:

  • Consistent across every channel. Even in a multichannel marketing strategy, the customer's core experience with your brand should be the same - from Amazon to Facebook to your website.

  • Clear about your point of differentiation and value proposition. A catchy name is great, but does every element of your branding ladder up to why consumers should care about your products?

  • Connected to an authentic story and values. Consumers want the brands they buy from to feel like a friend—someone who shares their interests, values, and connection.

  • Not afraid of criticism (bad reviews)—and welcomes it. If your product is the target of criticism, it’s an opportunity to assess and make optimizations and improvements, and then let your customers know you heard them.

  • Continuing to leverage influencer marketing and user-generated content. Deinfluencing, like all trends, is a momentary name for an age-old concept. Ultimately, finding voices your audiences will trust and building strong relationships with them can overcome any passing trend.

  • Willing to lean on experts for help. Having an agency partner that can see where your brand stands in the bigger picture can be the difference between being a strong brand and one that’s exposed to risk. Thankfully, we have a lot of experience doing just that.

Elements of a strong brand: Consistency. Clear communication of value. Connected to authenticity. Customer feedback welcome. Continues leveraging user generated content. Calls agency partner (us!) for help.

Next Steps

Regardless of what you call them—knockoffs, replicas, or dupes—imitators will never go away but aren't a challenge for brands who know how to communicate their true value. At Icon Commerce, taking a big-picture look at our clients’ branding and marketing ecosystem is part of how we ensure that dupes won’t hinder long-term growth. 

Ready to get started on strengthening your brand and protecting your bottom line from imitators? Contact us today—and remember to come back for part 2 of this series to learn how to protect your brand from Amazon retail arbitrage.


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