Bongiorno from Venezia,
What does a business do when competitors copy their product? It’s a big problem for some, including here on Murano island in Italy.
Branded motorbikes are assembled in Indonesia and Ghana but they don’t come from the company whose brand they bear. Smartphones were quickly replicated by other companies after Apple introduced them ten years ago. Pirated videos and music recordings have rendered some sections of that business unviable. The problem for the original designers is not new (and not necessarily a problem).
Take it as a compliment.
In some cases the aggrieved businesses try legal action to enforce copyright or patents. Some vainly lobby governments to restrict the competitor from importing into their market. On the other hand, some take the copy as a compliment which ultimately translates into enhanced brand image.
Murano is one of the islands which makes up Venice. Whereas Burano – another one of the islands – is known for its lace, Murano is known for its blown glass. The product – unique works of art in most cases – justifiably enjoys a wide reputation.
There are many craftspeople in the industry on Murano with centuries of tradition and inventive experimentation behind them. Their collective work enjoys a brand reputation as Murano Glass. But, quite a bit of the product on sale in the canal-side shops actually was made in China.
Gino Mazzocato has a thriving glass business with an extensive collection of superb glassworks. The upstairs collection is very impressive. But Gino has some unexpected news for us as we scan the wares on sale. “Everything on the ground floor is made in China,” he vouchsafes. When we show our surprise/disappointment he adds, “90% of the glasswork on sale here on the island is from China. I’m the only one who will admit it.”
Which is which?
It’s impossible to tell which is which for the casual shopper (which we soon become). So, we solemnly resolve to look in the Murano-made section. You know the arguments, dear reader: resolving to reward the real thing; sending a message to the cheats in the Orient; wanting to acquire a genuine article; and others. Have we fallen for the three-card trick? Are we paying an unnecessary premium for an item whose provenance is impossible to verify?
Compete against the counterfeits.
All sorts of manufacturers face competition from fakes. Fighting the circumstance is not a profitable tactic. Taking the act as a compliment is the most effective response. Compete in the market against the counterfeits, thereby elevating the original to a higher plane, allowing them to differentiate prices in their favour, increasing their own margins in the process.
By doing so, they are proving that the original is worth copying. The psychology is clever but obvious really, when you think about it. This is how the Murano glass industry is coping with the intrusion. They seem to be coping very nicely. And Linda has gained another “lovely” ornament for the pool room in the bargain.
Arrivederci a Venezia