The more you industrialize the packaging, the easier it is to be copied | The more natural, craft and authentic you look, the more difficult it is to copy!
Everything of value needs to be protected.
One only needs to think about how banknotes incorporate various hidden features – such as magnetic ink, metal strips and both physical and digital watermark devices offering machine readable data.
In early 2019, Amorim Top Series launched a new range of bartop cork stoppers – the Tap Series - that include a microchip with pre-recorded information, such as a serial number, production date and a link to Internet pages that can be used to provide exclusive information and identify authentic products.
The information is encoded in the stoppers using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology - a close range RF data transfer technology developed by Sony, Nokia and Philips.
Globalization makes it easier to imitate mass-market produced items.
In the global spirits market, market consolidation, the need to foster economies of scale and the search for cost-effective solutions, has increased the demand for mass-produced, industrialized packaging solutions.
However, this has also increased problems of counterfeiting.
Hi-tech customized solutions are the best way to thwart this trend, and also ties in with the spirits market’s marked premiumization trend, including the rising role of packaging as a tool for distinguishing brands, and growing demand for crafts spirits, which has fuelled a trend towards more natural, craft and authentic packaging solutions.
NFC is a key technology for future mobile communications. NFC-enabled phones include new Android phones and iPhone 7 or above. It already has a wide-variety of applications - including contactless payments, healthcare, ticketing, access control and smart offices and homes.
The NFC microchip integrated within the Tap Series bartop closures enable producers to develop innovative apps for their spirits, that consumers can then access via their smartphones.
The biggest immediate advantage of the Tap Series closures is to help combat counterfeiting, which is a major problem in fast-expanding spirits markets, including parts of Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.
For example, Euromonitor estimates that illicit vodka accounts for 30%-50% of total alcohol sales in Russia.
The 2018 report, “Alcohol in the Shadow Economy”, published by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) identified a widespread phenomenon - for example stating that illicit alcohol accounts for 28% and 34% respectively of the total market in Brazil and Mexico.
Mass industrialised production enables counterfeiters to copy the packaging of well-known brands and then refill bottles with low-quality spirits.
Quality control isn’t just about protecting revenues and intellectual property. It is also a public health concern - since fake spirits can include dangerous substances such as bath lotion, which killed 49 people in 2016.
One of the most effective ways to prevent refilling is to introduce a smart device in the bartop closure, viewed as a key solution for the problem of counterfeiting.
Cork closures already offer a protection against counterfeiting, since cork can’t be locally sourced in the markets where fake products have the highest market share.
The new Tap Series closures take this protection to a whole new level - by introducing a new variable into the production mix, that enables producers, retailers and consumers to confirm the origin and authenticity of the spirits.
The micro-chip inserted within the stopper provides a far more reliable mechanism than a QR code, which can be easily copied and printed on a label.
In a recent article in The Spirits Business
, “How do producers combat counterfeit spirits”, Mathieu Prot, brand security and anti-counterfeiting director at Pernod Ricard, highlighted the importance of ‘connected bottles’ that empower consumers via their smartphones. “It’s not so much the hardware technology, it’s more the digital environment and the way we’re able to interact. It gives us the ability to leverage the willingness of our consumers to ensure they have a perfect experience with our brands and avoid fakes. In the long term, it will be a game changer.”
Combatting counterfeiting is only part of this new world, NFC-enabled phones can access data from the microchip in the stopper that can provide a wealth of additional information associated to the product, such as serving and mixing suggestions, product information, promotional campaigns and competitions.
Counterfeiters take advantage of mass-produced industrialized packaging solutions because they are easier to imitate, making it possible to mimic the content and packaging of existing products, and pass off second-grade imitations as if they were the genuine article. This phenomenon plagues all spheres of mass-market industrialized production.
The best way to combat this trend is to develop distinctive packaging, based on proprietary technology, that is more difficult to imitate.
Bartop cork stoppers offer this advantage from the outset, since cork is only produced in a small number of countries, making it easier to trace counterfeit operations.
The microchip inserted within Amorim’s Tap Series bartop closures significantly reinforces the capacity to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit stoppers and thereby combat counterfeiting.
Find out more at: www.amorimtopseries.com
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