Standing out from grey market product

Grey market product seeping onto the consumables market remains a problem. Tech Data's latest initiative aims to make the genuine article stand out from the crowd.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  January 29, 2004

One of the latest initiatives to combat counterfeit and grey market product seeping onto the Middle East consumables market is far from high-tech. But sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective. A humble orange sticker is distributor Tech Data’s vehicle of choice to make sure that HP Supplies’ products are the genuine article on the shelves of stockists across the region. From February, all HP Supplies products sold by Tech Data in the region will have a sticker pasted on. The bright orange stickers will sport both the HP and Tech Data brand logos. “Counterfeit and grey market products are still an issue for vendors such as HP in the supplies space,” says Aman Sangar, regional marketing and communications manager at Tech Data. “This scheme attacks both areas and builds on the steps HP has taken to ensure only genuine product reaches the market. Some of the grey market product is entering the region from the Far East.” Tech Data claims the initiative will be a valuable tool for HP Supplies’ resellers by assuring end-users that they are buying the genuine article. Consumables and supplies — including ink cartridges, toner cartridges and paper — remain one of the easiest market segments for counterfeiters and grey marketers to operate in. As such, resellers should welcome any initiative that gives product a greater mark of authenticity. But — and there is a but — the low-tech nature of this solution is also its weakness. Tech Data’s first job is to ensure the stickers don’t get into the wrong hands or cunning counterfeiters make copies. With HP and Tech Data’s logos on the stickers, both company’s brand would be tarnished if this did occur. Tech Data must also absorb the cost of the man-hours involved with pasting them on to each and every HP Supplies product it sells. But the very fact that one of the major distributors in the region feels compelled to launch such a scheme is indicative of the significant level of counterfeit and grey market goods still available on the market. With this in mind, even the low-tech sticker is a valuable step in the right direction.

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