Ralph Lauren offers consumers a DIY counterfeit-checking tool

Photo: Ralph Lauren Corporation
Nov 08, 2019

Ralph Lauren Corp. on Tuesday launched Digital Product Identities, which enables consumers to use their mobile phones to verify the authenticity of Ralph Lauren merchandise. 

By scanning the Digital Product ID on the product label, consumers can confirm whether their purchase is authentic, as well as learn about product details and receive styling tips and recommendations. For Ralph Lauren, the technology offers real-time visibility to track products from the point of manufacture and improve inventory management.

The technology, developed in a partnership with EVRYTHNG, a connected IoT platform, and Avery Dennison, is being phased into all Polo Ralph Lauren products. “The application of this technology means every Polo product will be ‘born-digital’ which represents a new milestone in data intelligence innovation in our sector,” said David Lauren, Polo chief innovation officer, in a statement.

The launch came the same day a CNBC investigation alleged that The RealReal luxury resale site has been selling counterfeit goods and failing to properly train those responsible for authentication.

Start-ups such as Blockverify, Cypheme and Red Points have been gaining attention for using artificial intelligence and/or blockchain and cloud-based services to fight counterfeiting.

Some newer startups include:

  • Entrupy, based in New York, is an AI-powered app and handheld hardware solution that identifies counterfeit products. Specializing in luxury handbags with a 99.1 percent accuracy rating, Entrupy’s program takes into account as many as 500 data points during the authentication process with a verification process taking four seconds.
  • TruTag Technologies, an Emeryville, CA-based startup that raised $7.5 million in a funding round in October, makes microscopic, edible barcodes to authenticate pharma and food products. The barcodes are made from nano-porous silica, a material considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe) from the Food and Drug Administration, that can be placed directly on products or in packaging to track items through the supply chain.
  • RedMarlin, a startup based in Los Altos, CA that announced a $10 million funding round on November 5, utilizes deep learning and computer vision, provides real-time monitoring and automates detection to immediately take down fraudulent sites.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see advancements in IoT, blockchain and AI-based technologies eradicating counterfeit issues over the next few years? Will authentication tools, such as Ralph Lauren’s, holding much appeal for consumers?

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"This is genius. Counterfeits have plagued the luxury industry for decades, sapping profits and eroding consumer confidence."

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11 Comments on "Ralph Lauren offers consumers a DIY counterfeit-checking tool"

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Cathy Hotka

This is genius. Counterfeits have plagued the luxury industry for decades, sapping profits and eroding consumer confidence. If these technologies move the needle for Ralph Lauren, expect to see similar efforts by other upscale manufacturers.

Ken Wyker

This technology won’t eradicate counterfeiting, but it will go a long way toward reducing sales to the most profitable segment of the counterfeit customer base, those customers that genuinely believed they were getting the real, branded product.

The other segment which buys the item knowing the deal is “too good to be real” won’t be affected.

Ken Morris

I believe all three are key technologies for the future of retail. Blockchain has an enormous ability to change the game for authentication and sustainability. Being able to track product back to its source either in the ground or factory will be key to verifying what you are eating, drinking or wearing.

Consumers are becoming more aware of their responsibility to the planet and to their fellow man/woman. These technologies will enable consumers to verify not just product authenticity but the social impact of its source and the supply chain journey it took.

Ralph Jacobson

Counterfeit consumer goods have been rampant around the world for decades. This is absolutely a great way to leverage these growing technologies for the greater good of society. And I believe there is a stronger base of consumers who value the authenticity of a brand versus the fleeting appeal of a knockoff product.

Shep Hyken

I think the idea of being able to know if you’re buying a counterfeit item is appealing. Even more appealing is that this is a brilliant way to get a customer to download an app and collect some good data on the types of items they like to buy (counterfeit or not).

James Tenser

I like this idea a lot, but I do worry that a cottage industry may soon arise to produce counterfeit tags for counterfeit products. Some further thoughts: QR codes require active engagement from the shopper in the store using an app. They are an after-the-fact check for any product purchased online. Despite some limitations, this is an initiative worth supporting, since it will surely make life harder for counterfeiters and may make them easier to catch and shut down.

Ken Lonyai

I’d like to know the details of how the Digital Product Identities system works. Obviously a QR code tag can be faked too, so there has to be more behind it.

TruTag nano-porous silica considered GRAS–says who? This might be substituting one problem for another.

Rinaldi Juwono
2 years 9 months ago

In my home country of Indonesia, counterfeiting is a conscious decision for a lot of consumers. We have entire shopping complexes full of counterfeit goods with lots of people buying from them (see Mangga Dua). Most of these luxury brands are beyond what most people can afford, and those who can afford it will go to the official retail channels anyway. I don’t see this bringing any value honestly.

Shelley E. Kohan

Empowering the consumer will help to educate and allow the purchasers to validate luxury goods. While many companies, even in the moderate price range, have rolled out internal programs to combat counterfeit goods, the issue continues to plague the industry. By giving the power to the consumer, the industry can move towards reducing the number of counterfeit goods being purchased. While there is some intent to purchase counterfeit goods, there are many consumers that purchase these goods unknowingly. The more we can educate and empower the consumer, the better chance the industry has of lowering demand. Unfortunately, while AI-based technologies can begin to reduce the sale of counterfeit goods, the professional fencers will also use AI to thwart the systems.

Craig Sundstrom

The question is, when do they find out? If before the purchase, fine, but if after…

Ignorance is bliss and, remarkably, someone who finds out they were ripped off I think will only end up blaming Ralph Lauren. Certainly counterfeiting is a real problem and, in many but not all cases — except in the sense of society as a whole being harmed — it harms everyone. But it’s far and away manufacturers/retailers who are aware of it, so I don’t really see this being big on consumers’ wish lists.

Trinity Wiles

This is extremely innovative and alleviates a huge problem. I still think we have a ways to go before we see widespread adoption from brands. I can see consumers especially utilizing this when re-selling/buying second-hand products. However, with consumers already getting visual styling inspiration from social media and online platforms I don’t see that being the main selling point for utilizing this tool. I think the real appeal is the product authentication. I think that’s enough to get consumers to use it. No styling tips needed.

"This is genius. Counterfeits have plagued the luxury industry for decades, sapping profits and eroding consumer confidence."

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