In a seemingly unlikely scenario, the owner of a high-profile manufacturing business has revealed that cheap knock-offs are one of the best things that have happened to his business.
Sean Ashby, founder of men’s underwear and swimwear brand aussieBum, told My Business that his sales have actually increased as a result of counterfeit products – contrary to the commonly held belief that inferior copies actually lose money for the product maker.
“I have to thank the counterfeiters for developing in Taiwan and also good parts of China. I haven’t had to spend a cent there,” he said.
“Because it’s of such poor quality, those that have bought it or they’ve looked at my website to buy products, they then come [back] to me, because they’ll pay top dollar to get the product because they just like the brand.”
Sean said he is often asked why he doesn’t actively try to shut down those copying his products, but his response is that it would simply distract from his core focus of developing his own products and business.
“You shut one factory down, another one will open up.”
Instead, Sean takes a very proactive approach to always stay one step ahead of counterfeiters, meaning the products they produce are inevitably always ‘last season’.
“The trick is to stay ahead of them, and that being every week we’re releasing new product and every week we’ve got a new campaign. No manufacturer could keep up with what we’re doing. That’s kind of how it’s managed,” he said.
However, Sean believes that products will always be copied, and trying to stop that from happening is a battle that simply cannot be won.
“If anything, it’s the big end of town that basically takes a design of ours and then puts it into their retail store … Today, it’s just part of business, and once you’re comfortable with it, it’s not as frightening,” he said.
“I initially took [that] as a very big compliment … There was one brand, big international brand, that copied something stich-for-stich. I remember seeing it in the store: I was so excited I had to take a photo with me. ‘Look at this, we’ve made it, we’ve made it’.”
Sean has loads more insights into how he has developed a business in excess of $150 million in sales on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.