Most companies involved in consumer goods manufacturing face issues with counterfeit products in the marketplace. Of course, every fraudulent product sold negatively impacts the manufacturer’s bottom line, but often, the real damage is unseen: long-term injury to the brand from substandard product in the supply chain.

Consumers who think they have bought the real McCoy are left with a poorly performing product that fails and can even create serious safety issues.

Do they blame the unknown counterfeiter? Probably not: Instead, they form a negative perception of the brand, which they then spread through social media and word of mouth. The manufacturer has lost the initial sale and, more importantly, any follow-up sales from the consumers and possibly their friends.

Finding solutions to this problem that is both harmful to the customer and company often falls to the brand packaging team. For brands and designers, the task can feel seemingly impossible. How can they protect the brand and the consumer at the same time?

The packaging team at Microtech Knives was handed this task and worked with Document Security Systems (DSS) to launch a new technology to help combat the counterfeiters.

Microtech Knives manufactures 100 percent American-made high-end tactical knives. For over 20 years, Microtech has worked to build a long-standing tradition of innovation and quality with each knife. The company focuses on providing customers with the latest advancements in knife making while still continuing to maintain a humanized element throughout the manufacturing process.

“In recent years, our brands have experienced an alarming influx in the number of counterfeit knives being introduced to the market,” says Ellie Karrasch, marketing communications manager, Microtech Knives. “At the same time, we knew we needed an overhaul of our packaging. We had already been in contact with Document Security Systems about adding security features to our labels and packaging in hopes of stemming the counterfeit tide.”

Microtech Knives zealously guards its brand. Even through years of strong growth, the focus remains on delivering revolutionary products that exceed the customer’s desire for groundbreaking ideas. One example is the Marfione line of custom knives, which are highly refined handmade pieces with unique features crafted from only exceptional materials. Counterfeit product would greatly compromise the premise of this high-end knife and have a negative overall impact on the brand.

“When we spoke with DSS, the company inquired about more than just packaging,” says Karrasch. “The team wanted to know our marketing goals, our packaging designs, what we wanted to accomplish and so much more. At first this did not seem to make sense, but DSS came back with a comprehensive solution for the counterfeiting issue as well as ways to leverage the new packaging to assist and drive our marketing plans.”

DSS proposed its Authentiguard system. Authentiguard allows a user to read a secure mark on the label or packaging through a smartphone application and authenticate the product as genuine. DSS was also able to customize the smartphone application for Microtech to also allow purchasers to register the knife for warranties, receive information and promotions on new products, and much more.

“DSS essentially added features we wanted in our own smartphone application to the Authentiguard application and made it available to our consumers as a stand-alone Microtech Smart Phone Application,” says Karrasch. 

Each Microtech label now has a hidden code, which looks like a gray box to the naked eye, and a visible barcode. Both codes are read simultaneously using the scanner located in the “Authenticate your Package” section of the Microtech Smart Phone Application (for both iPhone and Android). The scanable codes are linked to a unique random serial number in an Authentiguard database. When scanned, the information embedded in the code connects to the database to instantly authenticate the packaging. Counterfeit labels won’t scan, warning the consumer of a fraudulent product.

Karrasch thinks Microtech’s new packaging now stands out from the crowd, enables the company to better communicate with customers, and helps protect consumers and the brand from the harm caused by counterfeiters. 

“I never would have thought brand protection could have such a positive impact on marketing as well, but we think this is a game-changer for our company,” she finishes.

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