Consumers lose Counterfeiting brands: a costly sham [Archives:2003/05/Business & Economy]
BY IMAD AL-SAQQAF
TAIZ BUREAU CHIEF
Imitation of products is a big threat in Yemen, says Mohammed Gawad Aghbary, trade manager-importing section in the middle Gast Trading company, comments,
Goods adulteration has spread in Yemen and markets are full of bad and misbranded products, he said.
Consequently, the customer is effected both positively and negatively by products that attempt to prove their presence and try to gain customer trust.
Yemeni industrial and trade authorities admit this problem of trade adulteration and misbranding in a letter from Ministry of Industry and Trade in Taiz addressed to the industry branch.
It points to the existence of commodities, electronic goods, building materials, spare parts and so on that have entered the country through normal inlets and through customs offices.
Some are Chinese, Indian, and Taiwanese goods, labeled as Japanese, German and Italian and other well-reputed countries in the industry for the purpose of cheating citizens.
The office of Industry and Trade in Taiz has been exerting efforts to fight the phenomenon, but faces many difficulties because there is not a clear law on punishing the guilty.
Engineer Gamal Mohammed Abdulrahman, the General Manager of Yemen Meteorology for Standardization & Specifications, Taiz office, defines commercial cheating as adding a variant substance to the natural substance of the commodity, or removing one of the crucial elements, substituting it with a second-rate element. So it hides the low quality of the product and make it appear as a high quality one.
They also add some cheaper material to the ingredients of the product for increasing its quantity. Cheating also done by changing the expiry date of products or reducing its weight and size.
One reason behind commercial cheating, he said is that “increasing demand of customers and variety of products and the technical development has greatly assisted to the spreading of the cheating phenomenon in many developing countries whose markets are victims of this phenomenon. Individuals’ low incomes and lack of awareness by the customers in these countries have also helped the spread of commercial adulteration. Added to that is the weakness of control measures.”
Misbranding undoubtedly has very serious damages on the consumer and the original product.
For example, one of the traders has recently introduced a fake drink for the famous energy drink (Shark) with the same size and color but with another name exploiting customers’ high demand for the original one.
Abdullah Mohammed Fakeera, the General Manager of the Middle East for Trade and exclusive agent for the energy drink Shark confirmed that there are a lot of reasons for misbranding, but the main ones are the product’s popularity and quality.
However, Mr Fakeera pointed out that the customer has to differentiate between the original and the fake by taking into consideration: agent slogan; shape (kind of the tin can, the color); and quality (taste and smell).
He concluded the damage of faking includes sales depression for the real product and affecting other products of the company.
In addition, the customer will not be able to recognize between the genuine and imitated product that definitely will affect his health.
He also confirmed that the faking phenomenon can be defeated by building awareness with the risks of the forged products and trial of everyone who forges original trademarks.
Dr. Abdu Ali, the manager of quality in the Yemeni Company for Industry and Trade, confirmed local products are often of higher quality than the imported which most of them are of low quality and not meeting specifications.
Dr. Ali also confirmed that what helps spreading the misbranding is absence of control on the market that is full with such commodities. Inspection requires qualified people.
Closing of smuggling outlets and providing modern laboratories to examine imported products are some of the most effective measures to be taken for fighting such a dangerous phenomenon.
The efforts exerted by the standardization and specifications authority in Yemen confirm its serious endeavor for adopting a Yemeni standard specification.
Engineer Abdulrahman says to fight smuggling and expired goods and commercial adulteration, we have to activate the laws, and spread awareness among consumers.
In most cases, these products were not passed through any quality checks and it’s doubtful whether it is fit for human consumption. Therefore, consumption of such products for a long time may create serious health problems.
Most of the consumers, especially people in the rural areas are not aware about the duplication, or they may not be able to recognize it as these products almost look like the original one.
Those who import/distribute duplicate products will always be thinking how they can utilize properly the popularity of the original products to make easy money and are not really bothered about the quality and bad effects of such products.
Moreover, since these duplicate products are entirely different in all respects compared to the originals, it can create a bad impression about the efficacy of the original products.
These unscrupulous traders/businessmen must know the effort, time and money spent to introduce, establish and maintain the position of a product/brand in the market, which they spoil in few months.
This tendency of imitating the products has recently increased as certain people always think to make easy money in a short span of time. In this process, they do not think about their brothers, sisters and children who are going to suffer by consuming this kind of products or what damage they do in the business sector.
They must realize that by involving such activities they are not only against the entire business ethics, but also spoiling the image of our country in front of other nations.
There is no hard and fast rule in our country to stop such unethical business practice unlike our neighboring countries. It is our strong suggestion that it is the time our government has to think of making suitable legislation in order to fight such duplicate products.
People who are involved in such activities should be identified and punished severely to save the interest of business community and the common people of this country.