Connecting with Digital Natives through Brand Protection


With the constant rise of counterfeiting, protecting one’s brand is now more important than ever. Many brand owners already take protective steps to protect their brands such as registering brands through trademark and copyright registrations and monitoring fraudulent use of said brands. However, with our current social media-driven world, connecting with the digitally native generations is a critical measure brand owners should consider in protecting their reputation and their consumers.

The term “digital native” describes a person who grew up in the information age with computers and an understanding of the Internet. Digital natives make up the largest share of the consumer base and workforce: Millennials (born between 1980-1994), Gen Z (born between 1995-2012), and Gen Alpha (born between 2013-2025) are digital natives because they were exposed to the Internet, social media, and mobile systems from an early age. Digital native generations are important for any brand’s future because they have significant buying power and influence.

Institutions such as the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) educate digital natives on the negative economic, health, and safety effects of counterfeit products. For example, INTA initiated the Unreal Campaign in 2012 to educate young consumers (ages 14-23) about the importance of trademarks and brands through online activities and school engagement. The USPTO partnered with the National Crime Prevention Council in 2020 to launch its Go For Real anti-counterfeiting campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of counterfeit goods.

So, how can brand owners follow suit? Here are some strategies to educate digital natives on the dangers of counterfeit products while simultaneously fostering brand loyalty.

  • Partner with trustworthy brand ambassadors: Consider partnering with “influencers” who align with your brand’s values. Influencers may help convey your brand’s message to loyal followers and target audience. Collaborating with reliable and authentic influencers facilitates brand owners reaching a larger audience while building trust with consumers.
  • Educate: Consider using social media to educate consumers about the content that distinguishes your products from counterfeit ones. For example, post educational photos and/or videos on social media that advertise the superior quality of branded products versus counterfeit ones.
  • Communicate effectively: When appropriate, communicate the negative effects of counterfeit production on the environment, the economy, and consumers themselves.
  • Encourage reporting: Consider adding a reporting tool on your website and investigate legitimate customer complaints. Paying attention to customer complaints helps gain trust and loyalty from consumers and presents opportunities to discover impersonators.

As the digitally native generations’ purchasing power continues to grow, brand owners may wish to find opportunities to connect with these technologically savvy generations. By using online platforms to educate digital natives about counterfeiting and the importance of brand protection, brand owners are building lasting connections with their consumers.

The material contained in this communication is informational, general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. The material contained in this communication should not be relied upon or used without consulting a lawyer to consider your specific circumstances. This communication was published on the date specified and may not include any changes in the topics, laws, rules or regulations covered. Receipt of this communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In some jurisdictions, this communication may be considered attorney advertising.


About the Author: QQ Wang

QQ Wang supports clients in establishing and protecting the value of their businesses’ intellectual property assets. Before joining the firm, QQ was a summer associate at Faegre Drinker for two summers. She worked with attorneys on a variety of trademark and copyright matters, along with pro bono matters involving First Amendment rights and immigration issues.

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