Home Interview/Opinion Brands fight for survival against adulteration and counterfeiting
Interview/Opinion - July 7, 2023

Brands fight for survival against adulteration and counterfeiting


Nigeria which is believed to be the most populous black nation in the world has been turned to a dumping ground for substandard products. This posed a great danger to the socio-political and economic development of the country. This has placed the country‟s socio-economic life under the siege of substandard products, and thus posed great challenge to brand owners.

In fact, the international media is awash with news of harmful and substandard products in Nigerian markets. Thus, consumers are faced with about 80 percent changes of buying fake products in a market where second-hand goods are preferred as original. These products pose grievous threats to both survival of local industries and the health of consumers.

From well-known places of commerce like the Yaba and Lagos Island markets in Lagos to the famous Aba market in Abia State and even on e-commerce platforms, buyers are overwhelmed with the number of fake goods, most of which are sadly passed off as the real deal.

The issue of counterfeiting is what many brands and manufacturers contend with on a regular basis; which is growing at an alarming rate! Brand owners spend a substantial amount of time and resources to build their brand image, value and reputation, which become jeopardized when they are counterfeited or faked by elements who want to leverage the strong brand name.

Counterfeit purchases also tend to boom before holidays such as Christmas and during designated sales periods, such as Black Friday and the January sales. Studies have shown that there is a higher chance of counterfeit purchases in the run-up to the holiday period as well as in the January sales that traditionally follow Christmas’s excess.

Research carried out by MarkMonitor, an American software company, suggests that 45% of shoppers are concerned that they might accidentally purchase fake goods during the Christmas season. Additionally, almost one third have been tricked into buying a counterfeit product, despite 91% saying they wouldn’t intentionally purchase one as a Christmas gift.

It’s worthy of note that, counterfeiting may have both social and economic impact on the brand; on the social perspective, a brand may lose its reputation and strong brand perception while on the economic stand point, there is lost sales and revenue from products that may have been passed off as original; for which the buyers were not able to decipher that they are fake.

The threat

The damage done by counterfeiters reachers further than relations with consumers. Distributors, retailers and other partners working with companies will often lose trust in legitimate businesses due to the actions of counterfeiters.

If a company has a price agreement with distributors or retailers, and they see listings on online platforms which offer the product at a lower price, their first instinct is often to think they’re being ripped off by the company itself. Why would a distributor buy a product wholesale if a brand appeared to simply undercut them on price?

This can be compounded further when partners have exclusivity deals in place; a distributor with exclusive rights to sell in a location will automatically feel betrayed if it looks like the brand itself is in direct competition with them. These effects can seriously harm relationships built over many years of trust and cooperation with other companies.

Customers will also leave negative reviews online, further cementing this new reputation crisis and furthering the idea that the real brand makes low-quality goods. This does twice as much damage on Amazon; with their combined listings system, a customer can buy a knock-off from the official listing, and come back to the same page to share negative opinions. These online reviews are used as public indicators for brand quality, so the impact can truly resonate.

According to the 2018 Global Counterfeiting & Trademark Infringement Report, the amount of global counterfeiting reached $1.2 trillion in 2017 and it’s estimated that it could reach an overwhelming $2.3 trillion by 2022.

Clothing brands are among the worst affected by the sale of fakes. In 2017, the EU’s external border detained over 31 million counterfeit products with a street value of over €580 million and clothes were in the top five detained categories. The sport shoes category continues to be the most counterfeited item.

The case in Nigeria

In Nigeria, clothing, household items, foods/drinks, beddings and mattresses are the worst hit by counterfeiters. For instance, high quality brand like Mouka Foam, Vita Foam, Sara Foam and other brands have been targets of counterfeiters to confuse buyers.

A truly egregious example of this is when Fuse Chicken had a counterfeit sent to a reviewer, instead of their actual product. As the company was growing in popularity, the New York Times requested a sample product to write a tech review. When the item arrived, Fuse Chicken got lucky, as the reviewer noticed it was a counterfeit and contacted their company. But, It took an eagle-eyed tech expert to notice the falsification, and it’s likely a regular consumer would have been left clueless.

Government Intervention

In an attempt to nib this problem in the bud, the Federal Government established several regulatory agencies. For instance, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria was created in 1971 by the Enabling Act No. 56 of 1971. The Acts has had several amendments since then. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) currently operates under the SON Act Number 14, 2015. The last amendment was made to give more power to the organisation to penalize offenders and also add more functions to the work of the organisation. The SON is headed by the Standards Council of Nigeria.

Speaking on this development, the Director-General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Farouk Salim, says the organisation’s increased level of seizures is assisting it win the war against fake and substandard goods.

Salim noted that feedback from market associations and stakeholders across different sectors showed a significant improvement in the quality of goods, especially steel and cables.

He noted that feedback on quality improvement in steel and cable products was gotten from contractors and dealers.

On issues of complaints arising from goods purchased online, Salim advised consumers with such challenges to contact SON, adding that monitoring goods online could be very difficult.

“We have offices all over the country, you can bring these goods and the receipts to us to clarify these issues so that we can go back to these online dealers to seek redress,” he said.

On the other hand, NAFDAC has been recognized for their impressive advancements as a global leader in the fight against fake and substandard medicines. Some sources say that the prevalence of fake drugs medicines decreased from 67% in 2001 to 16% in 2004.

However, analysts believed that the regulatory bodies can do better by intensifying their fight against counterfeiting for the sake of economic growth and development.

Stakeholder’s view

Worried about the danger and effects of counterfeited products in society and its economic implications, Marq Sikyor Africa, a brand protection and anti-counterfeiting company, said it is set out to fight the menace in all ramifications.

Counterfeiting which occurs in virtually all products from vehicle accessories to food and drugs and equipment discourages investment, and innovation and when counterfeited products are consumed it can lead to death or deformation.

Speaking in Lagos recently, the Founder and Group Evangelist of the company, Joko Okupe said his firm provides services to local, international and global companies, institutions, and organisations, that wish to protect their brands from counterfeiting and other forms of infringement in Africa. The firm covers the key markets in the continent.

“The repertoire of expertise and experience available to Marq Sikyor Africa, its in-depth understanding of the market terrains, and good grasp of the workings of Law Enforcement and Regulatory Agencies, make us surefooted to deliver results in infringement investigations and enforcement matters. Our brand protection investigations cover Anti-Counterfeiting, Anti-Piracy, Parallel Imports, Product Diversion, Trademark Infringement and Product Tampering/Adulteration among others”, he said.


Analysts say, the impact of counterfeit goods on an organisation run deeply, and can cause long-lasting damage. Brands will experience sales hit once the problem becomes widespread, since counterfeiters are able to undercut them on price.

Their reputation is also under threat, since consumers will equate their brand with the possibility of buying a counterfeit.

Do you have a compelling story to tell? Contact us via our email: espinewsng@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 08032519246.

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