Of Brands and Knock-offs

blog-counterfeit-bill

If you’re very low on budget like me, you might be somewhat brandophobic. However I’ve lately realized that buying branded doesn’t necessarily mean buying expensive, a fact not easily apparent. After years of shopping in the local markets and abroad I’ve seen prices of non-branded products rise so much and, at the same time, lots of cheap brands entering the markets. Today you can easily find a branded product for the price of a non-branded one.

Why buy branded?

Because brands care for reputation, and improved quality and originality come as desirable side effect. Because those may actually save you money for their added durability, especially if you go for entry-level branded products. Quite importantly, wearing, consuming or using  brands always feels good regardless of the price tags. Why? Well you shouldn’t be interested in the complex reasons as long as you realize this is true.

What is a branded product, or a brand?

Simple. A brand is a company emphasizing over it’s identity and therefore marketing it’s product and itself boldly over any medium suiting its needs. A brand will always have a website, and a phone or email for customer services and complaints. A brand is expected not to vanish into thin air after some time of business, it is expected to stay in the market for long, if not forever. Branded products are well  supported, these come with proper User Manuals, warranties and after-sale servicing. By these standards, even QMobile, the cheapo Chinese phones company, is a brand. See? Branded needn’t be pricey.

Knock-offs?

Every brand has parasites, parasites that feed upon it’s marketing and repute for selling lower quality products. Knock-offs sell well because these are cheap and because sometimes the difference between those and the  original are hard to point out. While many people buy these deliberately, most end up buying them without the slightest realization that they’re paying for a fake product.

How to know if what you’re buying is the real thing?

Even an expert can get fooled, but if you keep a few things in mind, the chances shall be very low…

  1. “Look at this shop, wow… it looks so professional. This shop markets itself so boldly, and oh! look at the state-of-the-art interiors and friendly staff.” Common sense says I have good chances of getting the real deal here, truth can be otherwise. Never ever consider the apparent standard of the retailer relevant. What’s more important is the retailers repute, something you cannot know by simply walking into the glittering shop, something that needs your being social and being mindful of the reviews floating around you. Never rely on even the repute alone.
  2. Whenever possible, find an authorized retailer in your area through the brand’s website. If there is none, you may try dropping in an email to the brand’s customer services and asking if there is any way you can find the product in your area.
  3. Do some research. See what sizes, colors, and packaging the product is available in. It’s ironic that knock-offs come in a wider range of colors and “trims” than the original. Google for “Real vs Counterfeit ”  and you may actually find some forum or even tips from the manufacturer on the important differences to look for. Also keep the approximate price of the product in mind. If the product in the market is significantly cheaper than the real price you know, chances are that you’re being fooled.
  4. Never buy something without a bar code. Also, the bar code should be different in other articles of the same brand stacked around the one you’re intending to buy. I was saved from buying a knock-off by this latter simple tip and honestly, that served as the inspiration for this blog post.
  5. Ask the retailer for warranty for the product’s originality. If they refuse, walk out.
  6. Looking for the product’s finish and the quality of it’s packaging is a good crude way to point out fakes, but that needs some practice and experience. Nevertheless you may always look for typos over the packaging. Luckily many knockoffs from Asia have entertaining Engrish over them. If the product comes with a hologram according to your prior research, it must have one.
  7. Don’t buy products without their packaging e.g shoes without the box and watches without their casings. Originals only rarely come without packaging.

Happy shopping.

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