“Yekutiel Sherman couldn’t believe his eyes… one week after his product hit Kickstarter, Sherman was shocked to see it for sale on AliExpress – Alibaba’s English-language wholesale site. Vendors across China were selling identical smartphone case selfie-sticks, using the same design Sherman came up with himself. ”
That excerpt was taken from this article that I was reading the other day. Sherman’s product is being copied. Horwitz talks about ‘China’s lightning-fast copycats’ which I think is a topic many people are interested in but may not know much about. I don’t necessarily agree with copying… but it’s happening. It’s inevitable. 2% of all world trade is in counterfeit goods with 70% of the world’s seized counterfeit goods coming from China.
Although it’s frustrating to have your product copied, it happens a lot and there’s not much you can do about it. The GOOD news is that it’s not the end of the world. You know why? If someone copies your product, it’s great validation. Some even say it’s the greatest form of flattery.
So what can you do about copycats?
Be fast to market!
Chinese copycats can reverse engineer a simple product and make a copy in days! If you pre-launch your product on Kickstarter and copies are on Alibaba within a week, you need to be ready to build and ship very quickly. If not, you’ll be behind by weeks and the copycats are riding on your marketing campaign. Nowadays consumers expect you to be fast to market. It’s not just about the idea but also the execution.
When you launch on Kickstarter you need to already know how to make your product. Know your costs, and even better have a manufacturer lined up. Be ready to go when you’re fully backed, or sooner! In the hardware space, it’s about knowing how to make stuff.
Focus on good design, good quality, and build a brand!
This is what’s really going to set you apart from the rest and help you to survive in the market. This is the most important thing that will help you if your product is being copied! Your product has to be a WELL DESIGNED product. The value of your design needs to be coupled with brand and product quality. During the design process, you need to ensure that the way in which you make your product is unique, hard to copy. It’s all about the little details, the design is the details. Make sure all the little details are perfect, when your product is copied, the copy will be inferior.
This can be done through good design and design for manufacture (DFM), Use quality manufacturing and develop a good brand that people can relate to. But in order to be a big success, you must have a good balance of all of the above, a brand is more than skin deep!
Keep innovating and improving your product/s.
Remember what you have that the copycats don’t is your knowledge of the market. Utilise your access to your users and your ability to invent new solutions. Create innovative products that people actually want. Never stop learning from your users, never stop trying to solve their problems in unique ways. Always be thinking about the next version or your product.Keep evolving it to stay ahead of the competition.
Partner with a good manufacturer, partner with a good design firm, set up good sales channels all of which allow you to focus on the most valuable thing – marketing & knowing your customers.
So if you’re the next guy whose product is being copied, don’t panic it’s just what happen – it’s actually really good validation! Stay focused on delivering a valuable solution to your customers and know your point of difference – whether it’s quality, materials, exceptional customer service or warranties! Build a brand and don’t stop innovating. Figure out what you can offer that the copycats can’t. There is more to making a product than an idea and the product itself!