In 2006, Michele Casucci had a pioneering idea: create an instrument which, thanks to digital technology, would confirm the authenticity of a product to the final consumer.
“We founded the company 10 years ago, but only now we are reaping the benefit of our work against counterfeiting,” he said. “This is partly because companies have started to understand the extent to which fake goods can damage their image and their revenues, and partly because consumers, also because of the crisis, have changed approach: they are willing to pay a little more for a quality, original product.”
The idea led to creation of Certilogo, a global platform for product authentication and consumer protection: the Milan-based company currently works with 60 international brands – from Colmar and Stone Island to Versace and Moschino– with a total 1.4 million users in 170 countries and around 100 million verified products in the world.
“Through our app it is possible to verify the authenticity of the product by reading the QR Code on the product label through the smartphone and adding the code on our website,” said Casucci, who is the founder and CEO of Certilogo. “We chose a fast and easy-to-use tool.”
In the past four years, the products certified by Certilogo's have increased by 140%.
Counterfeiting remains a challenge. According to a report by Certilogo, one of 10 fashion and luxury goods purchased in the past 12 months was fake – around 27,000 of 300,000 items.
The most exposed channel is the Internet: 75% of counterfeit goods were bought online by customers who believed they were original.
The highest number of authentication requests came from the UK, with a number of fake goods above average: 12% of 68,000 requests. The United States and China share the podium, with a lower share of counterfeit products: 5.5% and 2.3% respectively.
Italy is fourth, with over 25,000 requests and a share of fake goods of 11.6% of the items controlled. The counterfeit rate is similar to the level recorded by Certilogo in China, where fake products populate markets in main large cities. Of around 23,000 requests from China, 10.6% resulted to be fake goods.
Despite the anti-counterfeiting fight being far from won, it has become more effective because of new shared efforts.
“Companies cannot fight alone a phenomenon that today is more and more global,” the CEO said. “They must partner with the final consumer, who must be able to verify the authenticity of the product, but also with retailers, who must make sure the retail channel is secure. There are also other players, like customs, for example,” Casucci said.
Certilogo, which currently has 20 employees and revenues of below €3 million, is expanding its international presence thanks to new management positions.
“Now that we have proven that our business model is valid, we are expanding: we have a subsidiary in North America and we aim at strengthening our presence abroad. Foreign companies are very active in fighting counterfeiting,” he said.
Certilogo's expansion will not only be geographical. “We are working mostly with fashion and luxury brands, but we have also started to work with machinery parts. We are looking with increased interest at two areas: food and design, although the latter is less exposed to risk of counterfeiting.”
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