Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

BITE Guest Trend | How to defend yourself against dupes: lessons from the food and drink world

By Vaseline May31,2024

As copycats become cool, here are four lessons you can learn from food and beverage brands that have successfully built and secured their authenticity and image:

1. Connect through culture to defend identity

Brush up on your cultural relevance and be more “Lululemon” – in other words, don’t be afraid to get involved. Hunter launched the Tabasco brand on TikTok, after seeing a consumer document her challenge on the channel to refill a mini Tabasco bottle, with (gasp!) competitor’s sauce. By combining product seeding, community management, experiential focus, PR and a willingness to take risks, the brand purposefully fanned the flames of the #hotsaucewars, to create a social moment that this consumer – and the watching world – wouldn’t would forget. The strategy paid off: Tabasco became the most followed hot sauce on TikTok worldwide within a month of its launch.

2. Dial-up quality and integrity

When seen as a sign of consumer approval, dupes can increase desire for the real thing. Remember what your brand stands for and don’t be afraid to rely on those values ​​so the audience can distinguish authentic from fake.

When faced with the launch of copycat challenger ‘Heritage Breeds’, a colorful egg brand, Clarence Court drove awareness and understanding of its premium positioning and authentic heritage to support its higher price point. In celebration of the brand’s 90th anniversary, Clarence Court has created a ‘lookbook’ featuring exclusive images and recipes from top chefs and collaborated with premium partners to host multiple media and influencer events, delivering product quality, provenance and wellness messages throughout the anniversary year . . The widespread visibility helped boost sales of Clarence Court, maintaining its top position in the market despite competition from challengers.

Brands that remember that customer loyalty comes from this level of trust in product quality and manufacturing standards will thrive. Last Christmas the FSA warned consumers about counterfeit chocolate bars branded ‘Prime’ and ‘Wonka Bars’, which could be unsafe to eat. Meanwhile, in an innovative effort to combat the fakes, Italian brand Parmigiano-Reggiano has embedded edible microchips into its cheese so consumers can identify ‘formaggio forgeries’.

3. Mitigation instead of litigation

No doubt imitation is more irritating than flattering, but don’t be too quick to denounce it. The cautionary tale of M&S and Aldi’s rival caterpillar cakes, Colin versus Cuthbert, may have entertained us, but the case belies the challenges of launching copycat action. While M&S successfully defended its light-up, festive gin bottle design against a discounter version, Thatchers Cider recently lost its trademark infringement claim against supermarket Aldi. While the odds may seem to be in your favor, the resulting story can be very different. Consider focusing on making a mark on the culture for positive reasons, and earning the attention of those who matter versus prosecuting professionals.

4. Deliver more value in the cost of living crisis

As the popularity of K-wave culture extends into the kitchen, kimchi brands have emerged without Korean connections. Jongga, Korea’s No. 1 Kimchi brand, cemented its authenticity for British audiences through an engaging experience with broad news appeal. The Jongga Flavorverse was a three-week pop-up inspired by pop culture with a multiverse theme. By creating a culinary journey through immersive worlds, we empowered visitors to travel with their taste buds when the cost of living crisis kept them grounded. Importantly, we showed how the brand offered deeper value to the consumer than just the product. Powered by PR, including on-trend chef partnerships, influencer marketing and earned media outreach, we brought a piece of Seoul to London, with no passports required, reaching over 244 million people and driving a 27% consideration increase, putting Jongga firmly on London’s foodie map, despite less authentic competition.

The rise of cheaper imitators shows the importance of building brand love among the consumer public. Today’s shoppers have a sophisticated set of considerations. They don’t just want to buy things. They are interested in a brand’s backstory and how it contributes to society. To appeal to young consumers looking for value, brands must not change the conversation, but be part of it. Brands that forge an emotional connection by operating with distinction in the culture are best protected from copycats.

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