Counterfeiters exploit easily available technology to replicate genuine products, packaging, and authentication features. However, their attempts can be thwarted by use of innovative security technologies.
Despite advancements in anti-counterfeiting technologies, the challenge of counterfeit products remains a formidable issue. Globally, the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods accounts for an alarming USD 464 billion, equivalent to 2.5% of world trade (OECD).
Likewise, in India, approximately 25-30% of products in the market are counterfeit with maximum impact on FMCG, Apparel, Agrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Automotive and Consumer Durables. (ASPA & CRISIL).
Counterfeiters exploit easily available technology to replicate genuine products, packaging, and even the authentication features.
However, their attempts can be thwarted by use of new innovative security technologies.
“Holostik’s latest physical security technologies, such as Optical Variable Devices (OVDs) with colour control, higher Dots Per Inches (DPI)printing,colour-changing security inks & forensic markers are nearly impossible to replicate thus preventing product counterfeiting,”says Ankit Gupta.
“Also,use of new digital technologies like blockchain, unclonable QR codes, and unique pattern recognition have revolutionized product authentication, making it difficult for counterfeiters to imitate& breach product security,”he adds.
The standard ISO 22383: 2000 helps organizations to determine which categories of authentication elements they need in order to combat counterfeiting related risks.
Phygital Technology – mitigating incidents of counterfeiting, tampering and product diversions
A promising trend is Phygital Technology – the integration of physical and digital technologies – has enabled manufacturers and other supply chain stakeholders to prevent incidents of counterfeiting, tampering and product diversions to a larger extent.
‘Phygital’ solutions combine both physical and digital technologies to enhance security measures against counterfeit products.
For instance, consider QR codes printed on security labels and holograms. While physical security in the form of security hologram or label help determine a product’s authenticity, prevent tampering and adulteration; the QR codes allow consumers and stakeholders to digitally verify products, track& trace products in a supply chain, manage inventory & implement loyalty programs.
Holographic security scores above other technologies
“Amongst all the available technologies, holography stands out for several reasons,” states Shobhit Gupta.
“It is not what it was 20 years ago. Like computers, every few years we are seeing higher benchmark and newer technologies in holography as well. It has undergone significant evolution, reaching its 4th generation with resolutions exceeding 6 lakh DPI, colour control, inclusion of forensic elements, digital integration and development of advanced overt features that are easy to identify but tough to copy,” he confirms.
Notably, holography enjoys global adoption, with over 90 countries using it to secure their currency, underscoring its effectiveness.
Holostik’s latest anti-counterfeiting innovations
With a strong commitment to research and development, Holostik allocates a minimum of 5% of its budget to R&D. Their labs are certified by the Department of Industrial and Scientific Research (DSIR), Government of India. The company continually innovates to address evolving counterfeiting tactics.
Some of its latest innovations include:
Optashield: It empowers end-consumers to authenticate products conveniently at the point of sale in retail stores. Optashield exhibits highly visible and contrasting shift between two colours when tilted from the viewing angle. This property makes it easy for end-consumers to identify genuine products. It can be laminated on materials like PET, HDPE, LDPE, and paper. Holostik offers Optashield with labels, holograms, and revenue stamps, providing a versatile and effective solution against counterfeiting.
Paper Hologram Label: In line with its commitment to sustainability, Holostik introduced the Paper Hologram Label. This innovative solution offers holographic security features while benefiting the environment.
Unlike traditional holograms made from polyester, this eco-friendly alternative applies holography to paper, reducing the carbon footprint. It not only enhances security but also positions the brand as environmentally conscious and responsible.
The changing face of the anti-counterfeiting industry in India
“Over the years, I’ve witnessed a substantial increase in the adoption of anti-counterfeiting technology across various sectors. This is due to government regulations that mandate the use of such measures,” observes Shobhit.
According to him, consumer awareness regarding counterfeit products is on the rise. This has led to higher demand for products that prioritize secure packaging. Brands that invest in anti-counterfeiting measures are often preferred by consumers, further driving the adoption of such technologies.
“There is a growing preference for “phygital” (physical + digital) solutions over physical anti-counterfeiting technologies due to real-time authentication, digital tracking, loyalty schemes and alignment with global best practices. The speed of innovation in the anti-counterfeiting industry is growing and industry players must adapt swiftly to match up. There needs to be a proactive approach to research and develop,” recommends Shobit.
Collaboration between stakeholders in India’s anti-counterfeiting ecosystem is also growing. Sharing intelligence and best practices has led to effectively combat counterfeiters.
“While advanced economies may lean more toward digital solutions, the Indian market still places a strong emphasis on physical security features like holograms, security labels, and tamper-evident packaging as the market is price sensitive. Also, in developed economies the consumer awareness regarding counterfeit products is comparatively much higher coupled with stringent regulations,” outlines Ankit.
Holographic technology – ever evolving to face emerging challenges of counterfeiting
The latest 4th generation of holograms (Nano Optical Images OVDs) are shot at a resolution exceeding 6 lakhs dots per inch (DPI). This high resolution allows for the inclusion of covert features like nano text (up to 5 microns), nano images, microstructure, and unique optical element like relief effect.
Groundbreaking holographic technologies offer precise control over colour and offer easy-to-verify overt authentication features, improving consumer confidence and making counterfeiting next to impossible.
Furthermore, Holography has seamlessly integrated with digital technologies like QR codes. This convergence of physical and digital authentication methods significantly enhances protection against counterfeit threats.
“Much like the rapid progress seen in computer technology, holography continues to set higher benchmarks and embrace new innovations. There is a strong reason for its usage in securing currencies of 90+ countries,” emphasizes Shobhit.
Challenges in adoption of niche technologies in India
There are niche technologies in the global market that are yet to find adoption in India. However, one of the primary challenges in India is ensuring the affordability of these technologies at the product SKU level as the market here is highly price sensitive.
“It’s worth noting that certain advanced technologies in this field may come with a significant cost, sometimes as high as 50 Rs per SKU that are very difficult to sell in India,” underlines Ankit.
Holostik has an extensive global reach with its anti-counterfeiting and product security solutions reaching to customers in 95+ countries worldwide. It serves Pharmaceutical, FMCG, Automotive, Agro including other 21+ other diverse industries.
“While each solution is tailored to industry-specific needs, our underlying commitment to product security remains consistent,” says Ankit.
In particular, Holostik’s digital solutions are highly adaptable and cater to the specific requirements of each industry. For example, digital modules like reward management, warranty management, track and trace can be customized as per different industry requirements.
“Moreover, the size and scope of where a solution is applied can vary significantly across different industries. The willingness to invest in security solutions also differs based on industry-specific factors,” adds Ankit.
Are Digital security solutions better than conventional ones?
“There isn’t a single technology that can be considered the ultimate solution. Each technology has its merits and limitations. Some of the major options available today include physical, digital, and phygital (Physical + Digital) technologies,” says Shobhit.
“In a country like Bharat, relying solely on digital solutions may not be sufficient to address the security needs of the entire population. Our mission is to create solutions that cater to the masses, and not just for the educated and rich,” adds Ankit.
Growth projections of the anti-counterfeiting industry
According to Shobhit, the anti-counterfeiting industry is on a trajectory of substantial growth in the coming years. “We expect a double-digit growth rate for the industry,” he says.
As of 2021, the global anti-counterfeit packaging market was valued at a significant USD 118 billion, and experts project that it will continue to surge, reaching an impressive, estimated worth of USD 342 billion by 2030. (Source: Global newswire)
“For manufacturers keen on safeguarding their products and reputation, embracing anti-counterfeiting technologies, such as those provided by Holostikoffers numerous advantages,” continues Shobhit.
“They effectively reduce revenue losses that counterfeit products can inflict and, perhaps most importantly, safeguard end consumers from the potential dangers posed by fake goods. Furthermore, these solutions enable manufacturers to monitor and trace products throughout their supply chains, proactively identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities to prevent counterfeit items from infiltrating the market,” he explains.
Besides, manufacturers can also engage with consumers on a personalized level through these technologies, bolstering brand loyalty, and gain valuable data insights for informed decision-making.
The importance of collaboration between the industry, organizations, and governments
Collaboration between the industry, organizations, and governments is of paramount importance in the anti-counterfeiting industry. Counterfeiting is a multifaceted and constantly evolving problem that demands a united front from all stakeholders to effectively combat it.
One key aspect of collaboration is the sharing of information and intelligence among these entities. Furthermore, it ensures that regulations and policies are well-aligned with industry needs and technological advancements.
“Governments, industry associations, and organizations can join forces to educate consumers about the risks associated with counterfeit products. Moreover, collaboration can extend to solution providers who can work together to create integrated solutions,” believes Ankit.
Educating customers to safeguard end customer interest
The need to educate end customers about counterfeit products is pivotal in the fight against counterfeiting. Empowering consumers with knowledge allows them to play an active role in differentiating genuine products from counterfeit ones.
“Brands recognize the importance of proactive consumer education and have started to advertise what to check and how to check for product authenticity. In some cases, they even incentivize consumers to verify the authenticity of their purchases,” updates Shobhit.
“Educated consumers are better equipped to recognize the subtle signs of counterfeit products. They can identify discrepancies in packaging, labelling, and product quality that may not be immediately apparent to the untrained eye,” believes Ankit.
Obviously, when consumers actively demand authentic products and consciously avoid counterfeit ones, they contribute significantly to the success of legitimate manufacturers.
Holostik’s Second-Generation Leaders: A Legacy of Innovation and Commitment
Today, alongside his brotherShobhit Gupta, Ankit proudly leads the Holostik Group, where they are Joint Managing Directors dedicated to preserving and expanding their father’s legacy as second-generation entrepreneurs. Upholding their family values and ethics is paramount as the brothers drive the group’s growth.
In the last two years, Holostik has achieved significant milestones under their leadership. The production capabilities at the company got ramped up with the establishment of a new packaging unit at Greater Noida.
Established within a remarkable nine-month timeframe, the unit boasts of a state-of-the-art metallizer capable of manufacturing food-grade, high-refractive-index film, and normal metalizing applications.
Continuing its legacy Holostik was felicitated with F&B Packaging Award for best innovation in packaging and bagged the best physical packaging innovator along with recognition for digital supply chain solution from ASPA; which is an award started in their late father’s name “UK Gupta” to recognise his contribution to the industry.
In the constantly evolving landscape of anti-counterfeiting measures, Ankit emphasizes the importance of staying vigilant and well-informed.
“As technology advances, counterfeiters adapt and employ increasingly sophisticated tactics, making it imperative for all stakeholders to continue innovating and adapting in the fight against counterfeiting. Awareness plays a pivotal role in ensuring that consumers can make informed choices and protect themselves from the potential dangers of counterfeit goods,” he forewarns.
“I want to assure our customers that Holostik remains committed to its mission of authenticating supply chains and securing human lives, true to our tagline. We will continue to innovate and invest in cutting-edge technologies to stay at the forefront of the battle against counterfeiting,” concludes Ankit.