After struggling with a conventional IP strategy centered on targeting factories and distributors, a major cosmetics brand approached us to develop a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting strategy in Taiwan. We systematically investigated over 200 retail outlets throughout Taiwan, compiling data resulting in the discovery of three key factories in Central Taiwan. These factories were responsible for the majority of our client’s counterfeit problem in-country. CBI raided the factories and each retail outlet in conjunction with local authorities and served store owners with Cease & Desist Letters, asking them each to sign an Undertaking specifying a monetary fine if they were found to deal with counterfeit products again. Over US$1 million in counterfeit products and machinery were seized. Six months later, we revisited the same storefronts. Approximately 90% of the stores were only stocking genuine products, which were verified as coming from our client’s authorized supply chain. Fines were levied on the remaining 10% still selling counterfeit goods, enough to cover costs for the entire program. Our client has yet to find any more counterfeit products in Taiwan.f
A major electronics company found that waste at their supplier’s factory increased from 4% to about 10% in the span of a few months. They asked us to conduct several weeks of surveillance on the target to determine the source of the problem. In our experience, factory waste is often the result of obvious problems: diversion, non-contractual production, labor misuse or abuse, or poor manufacturing processes are just some of the common reasons why inefficiency may increase. In this case, we checked the factory’s waste disposal process to ensure that products were being properly recycled. We monitored for backdoor sales, unauthorized production, and even sabotage. Ultimately, none of these issues proved to be a problem. CBI placed an informant in the factory as a worker and deployed extensive surveillance. We soon learned that the workers – who were primarily immigrant laborers from Southeast Asia – were asking to work double shifts in order to be able to send extra remittances home. In addition, what little sleep the workers were getting was inside crowded, non air-conditioned dorms. Wastage was rising because the factory workers were simply too tired to perform their best. Our client re-evaluated their vendor policy and potentially avoided a large CSR scandal.
Gaining a Competitive Edge
We developed an expansive Competitive Intelligence program for one of the world’s leading bio-tech firms. Already extremely successful in Western markets, our client was developing plans for entry into the Chinese market. However, our client did not enjoy the same patent protection they have in Western economies, so they were forced to do one thing in China: compete. They approached us to help them navigate the veritably complex industry in which they operated. We were able to provide information that goes beyond what traditional market research firms are able to offer, using our on-the-ground investigative capability all over China. In addition to our reputational analysis on current key players in the industry, we ascertained existing and future pricing structures, production capacity, and product development plans for our client’s competitors. We also helped our client to identify complex supply chain issues, including the relationships between competitors and their suppliers.