No product authentication. No sustainability.
Product authentication is much more than finding out if a product is genuine or not.
How can a consumer be sure that a product is truly sustainable? And what can companies do to lend credibility to their sustainability claims? In fact, it is quite easy to say that a product is made with eco-friendly materials or processes, but then, how can this be proven?
Well, the solution is product authentication.
Let's discover more!
How authentication helps sustainability
There are 4 core reasons why product authentication is fundamentally important in helping reduce the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry, and why a product without product authentication can’t be trusted to be sustainable by the consumer.
1 - Fighting counterfeiting
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found that up to 10% of the total world trade is from counterfeit goods (Dimet, 2006; Sforza, 2006; Thomas, 2006c), with the largest category being fashion.
Counterfeiting causes companies economic losses, reputational damage, but it also has a major environmental impact.
First of all, fake products are often made using materials and manufacturing processes that damage the ecosystem, including the use of banned chemicals, unregulated consumption of resources, and generation of pollution and waste. Those products also tend to last less than genuine ones. This leads consumers to dispose of them quickly. In other words, counterfeited products usually go straight to the landfill. And if detected by customs, they end up incinerated. In both cases, the consequences on the environment are obvious.
Product authentication gives brands a tool to make their products a less appealing target for counterfeiters, and make it easier for consumers to spot fake items. The consequence is that counterfeit products no longer find a place in the market. And the fewer of them around, the less impact they have on the environment.
2 - Helping consumers make informed choices
Consumers play an important role in reducing the impact of the fashion industry, but they need to know what they are really buying. This is particularly true for the more sustainability-conscious consumers, who are willing to spend more but need to be sure that the product is both sustainable and not a fake.
Brands can help consumers by providing them with information about the supply chain, the processing methods, and the company's environmental and social commitment.
However, the phenomenon of greenwashing -that is, misinformation about a company's ecological commitment to give the public an eco-friendly corporate image- has made consumers much more distrustful of companies' claims.
Consumers must trust the brands, and authentication is a great way to build trust.
Through authentication, a product can prove itself to be genuine, and its history can also be traced securely along the supply chain, to back up any green claims.
By knowingly buying a genuine product that adheres to the best sustainable practices, consumers can feel good about their purchase, in the knowledge that they are contributing to safeguarding the environment.
3 - Lengthening product life
One of the best ways to reduce the ecological footprint of fashion brands and consumers is reselling. Instead of ending up in landfills, products can find new owners in the second-hand market. 35% of consumers state that they intend to resell their fashion purchases when they no longer have a use for it.
However, people who buy pre-loved products may fear they are buying a fake. Therefore, in the second-hand market, products that cannot be certified as authentic are more difficult to sell and less likely to be resold. In contrast, products that can be authenticated are easier to sell, retain more value over time, and thus can be resold again and again.
But authentication also makes reselling easier for reCommerce platforms, which currently have to spend money and time manually processing and authenticating products.
The easier it is for consumers and the second-hand retailers to sell products, the more the second-hand market can grow, with all the benefits for the environment.
4 - Improved circularity
Authentication is a powerful accelerator for increasing a circular business model in which products are reused, rented, resold and recycled.
Brands wishing to adopt circular design must have a secure way to sort and process garments for recycling or reselling, eliminating the risk of dealing with fakes.
Authentication not only ensures that the garments are genuine, but provides a means to properly sort them for remanufacturing.
In addition, authentication tools can incentivise consumers to return old products, offering a reward in return.
The consequence is the creation of a system in which products stay on the market as much as possible, even changing form or intended use. Indeed, the recycling of secondary raw materials reduces the consumption of new resources for new productions, even in different industry, while repair and resale services can lengthen the product life by 1.3 - 1.7 times which can significantly reduce the number of new products that need to be produced.
Get close to your consumers
The traceability and transparency provided by authentication has another value: it fuels brand loyalty.
In fact, those customers who can access product information feel more involved in the company's mission and vision. This leads to increased trust in the brand which, in turn, leads to increased customer lifetime value. And this is definitely a key element for the success of any brand.
You can find these and other information on the link between product authentication and sustainability in our blog post "Authentication as a necessity for sustainable strategies”.
And if you want to build a connected product strategy that makes your business grow by giving your customers the security of your environmental commitment, well, all you have to do is contact us.