Protecting the integrity of a brand is a multifaceted discipline which can be complicated by many pressing issues. Not least is tackling counterfeiting and diversion, as well as meeting high standards of traceability. When Systech was approached by a leading e-nicotine delivery system (ENDS) company, we worked in partnership with them to protect their brand and support business growth.
The price of popularity
Having a popular product can come at a cost. This was certainly the case for the ENDS company, whose newly launched vape products were in great demand. However, this demand inadvertently stretched beyond their target market and began to include minors, becoming both an urgent consumer protection and brand concern. Plus, unless the company acted quickly and decisively, they were in danger of being targeted by emergency legislative action by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the potential for their products to be removed from the market.
The company moved fast to implement an existing non-standards-based serialization and track and trace program linked to customer complaint data. While the aim of this was to help identify the retail outlets that were selling the products to teenagers, the program was frequently affected by errors and duplicates.
Another issue running in parallel was that counterfeit versions of both their devices and pods started appearing in the market. Again, the company responded, this time by taking the non-tobacco flavored pods off the market before the FDA acted, banning flavors in cartridge refill vape devices. Disappointingly this solution created more challenges by unintentionally driving up demand and increasing the volume of counterfeit products.
Simplifying complex traceability challenges
To find an effective solution to these challenges, the company turned to Systech. As a result, they saw great success in their program to prevent underage use. This was achieved through our GS1 standards-driven traceability solution that forms a key part of the Systech solutions platform. With this deployment the ENDS company was able to track all vape devices and pods, from manufacturing through 280-plus distribution partners and 500,000-plus retail locations.
More than 300 million serialized units each year are now supported, with no less than 100,000 supply chain transactions processed each day and millions a year. The system is used to respond to complaints about youths purchasing the products and identify the individual retailers selling to minors. Continually addressing and preventing the issue.
To address the counterfeit challenges, the company went on to implement the Systech authentication solution across all their device lines and are now moving to protect their reusable cartridges too. Armed with this capability, they can immediately determine product legitimacy in the field using a smartphone app.
Back on track for brand success
Deploying Systech solutions has allowed the company to address a myriad of complex challenges and led directly to a reduction in the use of their products by minors, preventing the brand from being banned for sale in the US. The validation of serialization and traceability also helps the company comply with FDA Premarket Tobacco Product Applications submission guidelines.
Plus, the integration of relevant traceability and authentication data has allowed the company to tackle threats created by counterfeiting and diversion. This is supported by the company’s use of Systech Insight™ to gain supply chain visibility of all capture and authentication activity.
This customer experience demonstrates the full power of our integrated Systech Brand Protection Suite. From serialization, traceability and product authentication to complete supply chain transparency, we empower companies to enjoy the rewards of high product demand with fewer risks.