Expert Interview Series: Atim Ukoh on the Power of Mobile Solutions to Empower Consumers

Atim Ukoh is the Social Media Specialist at global brand protection firm Sproxil, where she manages digital communications for the company globally.

Sproxil was created as a response to the increasing death rate of individuals in emerging markets as a result of counterfeit products. Founder Ashifi Gogo had experienced the prevalence of counterfeit drugs growing up in Ghana and decided to create a solution to target this problem.

Atim recently checked in with us to share her insight on how consumers can protect themselves from counterfeit goods using mobile technology. Here's what she had to say:

How common are counterfeit goods today?

The penetration of counterfeit goods in both emerging and developing markets has increased significantly over the years. In some countries, counterfeit goods are present in open markets in higher volumes than the original products.

What do you think would surprise both business owners and consumers alike about the counterfeit market today?

The counterfeit market has become more sophisticated with time. The counterfeiters are getting clever about how they reproduce these products. Some replicate these goods so well to the point that even employees at the company that produce the original products have a hard time differentiating genuine from fake.

What's the impact of the proliferation of counterfeit goods? What are the risks to consumers of purchasing counterfeit items?

Over 700,000 people die every year from taking counterfeit medicines. That's equivalent to four fully packed jumbo jets crashing every day! Consumers are likely to develop short- and long-term health issues from consumption of these products. They lose money from the purchase of these items.

How can mobile technology be used by consumers to combat counterfeiting?

Mobile technology empowers the consumer to combat counterfeiting by providing an easy verification method to ensure they are purchasing genuine products. The Sproxil solution enables the consumer to text a unique pin provided on the product they are purchasing to a short code and they receive a response verifying that their product is genuine.

What are some ways consumers can use their phones/tablets to protect themselves when shopping?

Consumers should use their phones to verify that their products are genuine by engaging with the code provided to verify their product. They can also download the Sproxil App and use this to verify if their product is genuine.

What should businesses be doing to protect consumers using mobile technology?

Businesses need to understand that for the consumer to engage and enable them combat counterfeiting, they need to also take the right steps to make the process easier. Businesses need to implement the right mobile technology in their current supply chain that would eliminate counterfeit infiltration. Once they install the labels or pins on their products, they can also track when their products leave their factory until it gets into their consumers hands. This helps improve the engagement they have with consumers as the consumers are now sure that they are consuming protected products and the brand cares about them.

What's one of your favorite success stories for how mobile technology has been used to protect consumers?

There are many interesting stories of how the Sproxil Solution has saved lives. Our favorite is with one of our clients who produces anti-malarial drugs. Using the Sproxil solution, we were able to intercept stolen goods in their supply chain before they got to the retailers. We traced the goods to the counterfeiter's location and were able to engage law enforcement to handle the matter appropriately. This saved thousands of lives that would have consumed those products that they were about to alter and replicate.

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