From useless Himalayan Salt lamps to projector lamp warfare, Red Points examines the curious - and potentially lethal - trend of lamp counterfeiting.
Amid the recent news that the UK could face a €2 billion fine from EU anti-fraud organisation Olaf for failing to crack down on counterfeit goods entering Europe, customs officials are scrutinising goods shipments across all industries for counterfeits, and companies are becoming aware that efforts to protect their brand equity are largely unsuccessful without a technologically-advanced brand protection strategy.
To the casual consumer, fake lamps may seem like an issue of insignificance compared to counterfeit money or pharmaceutical drugs. But as businesses within the world of lighting are seeing their customer bases suffering, and consumers face potential harm from fake products, it is surely time to take action against the practice.
In 2012 Just Lamps, a global company specialising in projector lamps, began an investigation into counterfeit lamps, conducting test purchases across the globe. After concluding that the lighting market was flooded with fakes, the company started an initiative in the form of www.counterfeitlamps.com, in a bid to educate consumers on how to spot fake projector lamps that imitate popular models of major brands. Just Lamps CEO Dave Bethell insisted that customers purchase fake lamps “unwittingly”, and that a “better educated market” will drive consumers away from buying counterfeits. A ‘Genuine Lamps Alliance’ was also formed, to encourage AV manufacturers and distributors to join forces against counterfeit lamp trading.
When Just Lamps found counterfeit lamps in their own stock in 2014, the market became switched on to the gravity of the situation. Lighting brands realised that if the high-quality appearance of counterfeit lamps could fool even the most circumspect of experts, was it possible that counterfeit lamps were already in mass circulation and threatening their hard-earned reputation? In response to the growing problem, Optoma quickly rolled out a authenticity specification check. Philips launched a ‘Buy Original’ campaign with extended product warranties in East Africa, where a recent rise of mass-produced counterfeit essentials has been taking charge. Epson took advantage of the Just Lamps counterfeit acknowledgement by successfully suing the company for distributing counterfeit Epson projector lamps.
As could be expected, casting light upon the prevalence of counterfeit lamps exposed it as a problem bigger than predicted. No lighting product seems to be immune in the curious trend, from standard LED bulbs to popular Himalayan salt lamps. And unfortunately, consumers too are suffering as the trend to counterfeit continues to grow. Genuine Himalayan salt lamps can provide health benefits, whereas fakes yield nothing more than mood lighting. Poorly-designed lighting can even be dangerous, and as counterfeits do not undergo safety certification checks they pose a real threat to consumers. A televised investigation of a number of fake LED lamps seized in the UK was launched after consumers reported receiving shocks from counterfeits. The bulbs were found to be “potentially lethal” in their design, with high risk of causing a fire. Shockingly, the lamps even included fake safety marks showing that even cautious shoppers could be at risk.
As more light is being shed upon this counterfeiting craze, it becomes increasingly imperative that brands take action towards understanding the counterfeit industry in its dominion and means of operation. Customer welfare should always be a priority, and educating consumers on how to spot counterfeit goods is surely vital in preserving a loyal customer base as well as ensuring of well-being. By understanding the ‘where, why and how’ of counterfeits, companies can understand where to best place their resources in tackling the problem head-on, in order to protect their own equity through maintaining brand appeal and reputation. In selecting a strategic brand protection solution, companies should assess their own level of counterfeit and understand where counterfeiting is taking place, whether on the streets, through e-commerce websites such as Alibaba or on shopping apps such as Wallapop. By staying on top of trends and protecting products over distribution channels, brands can work together to fight counterfeiting and eventually extinguish the practice altogether.