Counterfeits are out there.
It happens all the time, someone decides it would be a good idea to make money off the good name of others by using their name on an inferior product or service. Usually they are obvious because they attempt to appear legal by having a similar name that is intended to be overlooked by customers. The less obvious ones will go so far as to emulate the brand logo as closely as they can.
Most commonly known as being counterfeited is money, watches and handbags... but it does happen in other industries as well.
Counterfeits are typically made of inferior materials and/or put together poorly. They may work for a time but will usually wear out before the official brand version will. They are often sold for cheaper than the real brand items though still more than they are actually worth.
There have been counterfeits produced of products we carry. Online, they are most often found on sites that are open market where anyone can list anything, so the counterfeiters can easily market their products without drawing much attention to themselves. From time to time, the counterfeiters pass themselves off as an official distributer and can trick customers and even resellers.
At MackOutdoors, any products that are not ordered directly from the manufacturer are verified before listing them on our site. We trust our distributers, but we want to make sure our customers recieve the product they are expecting.
Flashlights: We order direct from the manufacturer or an official distributer. We haven't heard of any counterfeiting.
Batteries and Chargers: We order direct from the manufacturer or an offical distributer. We haven't heard of any counterfeiting.
Knives: We order from a redistributer that we trust, but we still check every knife to make sure it is official. There are an abundance of counterfeits out there so we like to make sure.
Survival and Outdoors: For most of this stuff, there wouldn't be any money to be made in counterfeiting. We haven't heard of any counterfeiting (exception: some of the axes and saw are from the knife brands, so we confirm these as well).
Knock Off Brands
Similar and different from counterfeits, this is when someone uses another brand name but makes their product deliberately look like that of another brand. Usually this is either made of the same materials or lower quality. Customers know they are not buying the real brand, but it is usually appealing because it is cheaper or maybe more convenient. On occasion, a brand will come along as a knock off but make a better product - thought rare, it occasionally happens.
Sometimes, a knock off brand will overtake the original and make a name for themselves.
The question with these is not so much of if they are a knock off but if the customer is getting what they paid for.
When looking at a possible new brand, we look at several factors - I will only list a few here.
Does it look like stuff we already carry? If it looks too similar then customers might get confused.
How does the measured statistics stack against the brands we carry for that product? If it is basically the same thing, there isn't much reason to get it.
Does it have any features that can make it stand out from what we already carry? This can even be just that it provides more information than our current brands provide.
Is it cost effective? We look at our purchase cost compared to sales price and do we think the product(s) will sell well.
There are more factors, but at the end of the day we are looking to provide the best we can for out customers. If we don't think it is good enough or it would not be cost effective then we won't carry it.
For customers, if you want something that we don't currently carry, feel free to ask us about it.
For manufacturers and distributers, this matters more because if they are a knock off brand (or look like one) then they have a lot of work to do to get us to even consider them.
There are several methods of rebranding, some are illegal while others are legally fine.
Repackaging: Buying a product and then removing all branding from it and putting on a new brand and putting it in new packaging. This does happen and typically is not profitable as customers are not drawn in by the strength of the manufacturer's brand so it either needs to be sold for less or held for some time.
De-Bulking: Some manufacturers sell their products in bulk only batches so another company will buy that item in bulk and repackage it as individual items or in small packs. When doing this, they should be mentioning the original manufacturer on the packaging - since a customer will find the brand on the product anyway and that looks like something fishy is going on if the customer finds out after buying it that is was repacked.
Bundling: One company buys several products and sells them as a bundle that is only available through them. Usually this is because the bundle includes products from several brands so each item will be listed with the brand information but the bundle itself would be under the selling company's brand. (As an example, if we sold a bundle that we assembled, it would be under our own brand but listing each item in it with their branding information.)
Rebranding Services: Offered by some manufacturers, they have products that they will put a brand on for the customer. While this can be as basic as pens or notepads with a company name, it can go so far as full blown products for resale. Often times, these are intended to be trinkets to hand out like a business card or gifts for employees.
- We've had some factories offer these services to us, sending us pictures of flashlights and other items with the offer of having our brand printed on these items. So far, they have lacked any good information for them and we would be on the full warranty hook if we did sell them.
While we aren't opposed to some rebranding, we like information.
We do our best to avoid repackaging, but we are human and could make a mistake. That said, if we discover the that a product is repackaged then we will determine what to do then and no longer purchase products of that brand in the future.
When it comes to de-bulked products we are fine with this. If the brand of the product does not match the packaging brand then we will check the product description. If the description does not mention the brand of the product then we will contact both involved brands to try and determine why this is. If we don't get a timely response or are informed that it should be mentioned then we will add the product brand to the description of the product.
We will also treat bundled items the same way, if the brands involved are not mentioned in the description we will attempt to make contact to determine why. If we don't get a timely response, then we will add the brand information ourselves.
As for rebranding services, we aren't likely to make use of these for anything we might sell. Others may have also gotten the same products with their own brand - it doesn't look good if multiple resellers have the same product but with their own brand on it - unless they are trinkets and are more about the brand than the product. (For example, a MackOutdoors keychain might be cool.)