How connected products are changing the perception of what is genuine
Consumers are increasingly more concerned about wanting to buy authentic products.
As increasing numbers of brands adopt digital IDs and markers to offer authentication services to their consumers, connected product technology is changing the consumer's perception of what’s genuine and what are the new symbols of authenticity.
Decoding authenticity in the era of connected products
In the past, the ability to judge the authenticity of a product depended on the consumer's own skill and experience to recognise specific qualities and attributes that could identify the product as genuine. From the feel of the material to the design of specific details. Some products may come with certificates of authenticity, but consumers rarely have the expert knowledge to be able to recognise a forged document and authentic documents can be stolen and applied to illicit garments. When a product is bought from a brand store, the trusted context of the retail environment provided the guarantee that the product would be genuine. These were the principal factors that would determine the authenticity of a product.
With the rise in e-commerce, shoppers find themselves making purchases outside of such trusted environments, and as counterfeiters become increasingly sophisticated, it is easier for them to create increasingly convincing forgeries. In fact 8 in 10 of all fake purchases are made online.
As brands digitise their products with Digital IDs and interactive markers, this new generation of connected products, is changing the way consumers perceive and understand the concept of authenticity. Connected products can convey authenticity through their unique, secure digital markers by enabling consumers to instantly authenticate the product and its history, without any specialist knowledge.
New symbols of trust
Digital markers such as QR codes or NFC tags have now become a real icon of authenticity, and create a sense of trust in the consumer, thanks to their ability to provide customers with concrete proof of authenticity.
Consumers have come to expect that the product's marker will provide access to a digital journey. Experiences that allow consumers to consult the information about a product's origins and manufacturing processes and access an ecosystem of brand services, such as repair, resale, and recycling, thereby enhancing the product's value and circularity.
It’s actually not surprising that, nowadays, products not supporting any digital marker are often not considered authentic even if they’re really genuine.
Moreover, the extended experiences offered by connected products are both contributing to and responding to changes in consumer behaviour. A consumer's demand for authenticity doesn’t revolve around the protection of their economic investment into their purchases, but also the increasing activism of both brands and customers around issues concerning health, safety and ethical values.
Authentic products come from authentic brands
For a product to be considered authentic, it is no longer determined solely by a product being certified ‘not fake’, but also by the digital journey of the consumer experience and the brand's ability to tell a trustworthy story and demonstrate it in action. Authenticity means being true to one's word and walking the talk.
Authenticity means being able to back up green claims with transparent traceability and share the origins of the product's materials, and the processes that were used to create it and demonstrate an understanding of the impact that the product has on the environment. If a product can't be authenticated, then how can the story that it tells be trusted? Authentication is therefore fundamental for establishing trust not only in the product but also in the information that it shares about itself.
Consumers demand increasing transparency and authenticity. Brands that aspire to be truly authentic are integrating connected products into their engagement strategies to enable them to tell their customers authentic and trusted stories.
The importance of secure authentication
However, not all digital IDs are able to provide secure product authentication and guarantee the true authenticity of a product, or be effective in the fight against counterfeiters. Brands that underestimate the importance of securing their Digital IDs exacerbate the risk of counterfeiting and undermining their sustainability strategies.
As Digital IDs become symbols of authenticity and the digital journeys they enable become an expectation, so counterfeiters exploit them to create ever more convincing forgeries that are implicitly trusted thanks to the digital product authentication they appear to deliver. These 'super-fakes' feature cloned IDs or fake IDs that ape the brand's own authentic markers, but instead simply point to the brand's own website. The consumer in non the wiser, and simply accepts that journey as being authentic, similar to the ways in which consumers can be easily tricked with email and SMS phishing scams that fool the less tech-savvy consumer.
For this reason, it is important for brands to adopt secure authentication that is not only able to authenticate a genuine product, but is also designed to intercept, recognise and manage cases where consumers encounter products with cloned and fake IDs.
To learn more about how to secure your Digital IDs and Product Passports, as well as how secure product authentication can be used to unlock value throughout your organisation, read our latest white paper “Connected Products: why authentication is a hygiene factor” or contact us to arrange a consultation or a demo.