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Selecting brand-security technology suppliers

Susan McNeely

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Selecting brand-security technology suppliers

The selection of brand-protection technologies and suppliers of those technologies can be a daunting task for a brand owner. The following are some ideas to accelerate your company's learning curve.

Early in the process, agree on a core research team and create a database of vendors and technologies. In the database, include technologies with descriptions and comments on their potential usefulness, key contacts and notes on all meetings with suppliers.

Before investigating specific brand-protection technologies, define and clarify the problem. Is it counterfeiting (product or packaging), diversion, tampering or some combination of all three? Ask some key questions: Where is the product being compromised? Where will the product be verified? Who will verify it? How will the results of an investigation be used?

When you understand the problem, begin to search for individual technologies. Where will technologies fit in your toolbox—are they overt, semi-covert, covert or forensic? What combination of solutions will fit your problem? What technologies will layer well with other features on your products?

Trade publications, security publications and library journal searches are sources of information on technologies and suppliers. Read carefully; authors or interviewees may sometimes be promoting their own products. Detailed reports prepared by neutral parties are expensive because of the extensive research required, but they are objective.

Consider attending brand-protection conferences. Study brochures to see if the events meet your needs. Is the focus on strategy, technology or investigation? What types of technologies will be discussed? What suppliers will be present? Tradeshows may also be a good place for a first contact with suppliers.

Use the internet for key-word searches and to check the websites of suppliers of promising technologies. Good websites will tell you basic information about the technology and will give you a sense of the technical and security expertise of the supplier. Let your colleagues know you are seeking information on brand protection and ask them to refer all information and requests from suppliers to your core research team.

You must also decide if you want one supplier that can provide you with a complete solution, or if you want to design your own mix of technologies to fit your specific problem. For example, a packaging material supplier may have a portfolio of products available and may provide the interface to the technology suppliers, but the brand owner will then be heavily dependent on their expertise.

Find out approximately how many suppliers there are for each technology and try to determine which are the experts, using references if possible. Talk directly with the technology supplier to make an evaluation of the supplier's experience and expertise.

Expect the following from any supplier of brand-protection technology:

  • Good security practices;

  • Insistence on a confidentiality agreement before substantive discussions;

  • Knowledgeable sales personnel and a technical staff included as needed;

  • An understanding of brand protection for your industry;

  • The ability to describe how their technology will work on your products;

  • The willingness to educate your company on the technology and to provide useful information beyond their own solutions;

  • Follow-up on performance of their product after it is in production; and

  • Continuous improvement efforts.

Susan McNeely is engineering consultant for Eli Lilly and Co., Package Engineering Technical Center.

About the Author(s)

Susan McNeely

Engineering Consultant, Eli Lilly

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