There has been a rise of “fake stores” in China. Apple, IKEA, and even Dairy Queen have been copied, even down to the type of pencils employees use. This is all well and good if they are authorized dealers of that brand. The problem is, most are not. Here’s the twist, most of these stores are selling the real deal. Real iPhones. Real iPads or they are selling something extremely close. A store called 11 Furniture lifts their brand straight from IKEA, even down to the golf pencils, blue and yellow color scheme, and crinkly bags. They copy, verbatim, the marketing strategy and store experience in how IKEA markets to consumers.
The most interesting thing about this piracy is these unscrupulous businesses copy the very store experience that customers equate to these brands. There is a major problem for brands like Apple, Disney, and IKEA, these “fake employees” are not as carefully trained as the real employees are. This will lead to brand erosion to an increasing brand-conscious Chinese market.
This brings me to the main point of this blog. Brand experience is so important, these fake stores are trying to replicate that. They understand the power of the experience to defining a brand. It’s not just the logo, the colors, or even the tagline. It’s the customer experience that reinforces all of that stuff into something that hits the heart as well as the mind. The question to you, is your brand that well defined where someone can “bottle it” and have customers buy it because they believe in what you are selling? As you see, it’s not about the iPhone, the Stockholm sofa, or even the Blizzard. It’s about the experience you have while you are shopping for these commodities. It’s being able to say that you bought something from IKEA or the Apple Store.
If these cheating entrepreneurs wanted to just sell phones and furniture, they could do it out of their car or generic warehouse. But, they see what some companies don’t. A strong brand moves merchandise. A strong brand gains loyal customers. A strong brand is heavily marketed. The question is, is your brand so well defined and marketed that copycats would want to not only copy the way you look, but the experience you deliver? If not, then maybe your brand isn’t worth stealing.