IHA Weighs Counterfeit Housewares Impact

CHICAGO— Phil Brandl, the president of the International Housewares Association, told HomeWorld Business that the association is working to analyze and respond to the problem of counterfeit products as it impacts the housewares industry.

HomeWorld Business: What have you heard from your members about product counterfeiting and how it’s affecting them?

Phil Brandl: From our members we hear that counterfeiting of products is a very substantial problem. One way we verify the magnitude of the issue is through our IHA-sponsored executive peer group networking sessions, CORE, held around the country. According to CORE group facilitator, Dan Raftery, counterfeit housewares come up in nearly every meeting. He says that companies report spending significant resources to find and stop counterfeit products from entering the U.S. supply chain, often only after the damage has been done. Not only can counterfeited product hurt sales, but it can negatively impact the consumer’s image of the product and brand.

HWB: Do they regard the counterfeiting problem as becoming worse?

PB: Generally speaking, yes. The proliferation of e-commerce appears to exacerbate the frequency of occurrence.

HWB: Has IHA launched or become involved with any programs to help deal with counterfeit products?

PB: In a defined formal sense, no. There are legal aspects we need to be sensitive to, although we hear that the type of networking services IHA provides, such as CORE and the annual CHESS Conference, are very helpful for members to share experiences and learn how to better deal with the problem. Unfortunately, programs such as the German Plagiarius Program are not legal in the U.S. We’re not certain how effective that type of program is regarding shutting down the problem.

HWB: What does IHA believe should be done about the counterfeit branded products issue?

PB: We will continue to provide communication regarding the negative ramifications of counterfeit products to the industry. We’ll also continue to provide educational and networking services for members that can help them resolve individual instances of product counterfeiting that they’re dealing with. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to dealing with or solving this very troublesome issue.

HWB: Given the increasing complexity of the retail market today, what might be done in working with retailers on the problem?

PB: Retailers are generally quick to work with manufacturers to stop counterfeiting problems. But, as we learned by listening to our CORE group facilitator, the online marketplace has so many points of entry through resellers that finding counterfeits takes disciplined diligence, which falls to the manufacturer.

HWB: Is this an issue that is becoming more important to the IHA and what might it do to address it?

PB: The problem is substantial and not likely to go totally away soon. Education and communication by IHA and the trade magazines to the industry, and proactive communication between legitimate manufacturers and their retail customers will be key.