Parallel Imports a Threat to Sustainable Brands

In 2015, the nations of the world united in the battle against climate change, poverty, and inequality by agreeing on a set of sustainable development goals (the SDGs) to be reached through a joint, international effort by the year 2030. These goals, along with the Paris Climate Agreement, have sparked a huge change in many consumer industries, especially the fashion industry, as shoppers demand more sustainable products and business practices.This has encouraged many companies to begin transforming not only their clothing, but also their brand image, towards fairer, greener versions.  

While this is a positive development for consumers, the private sector, and society as a whole, some brand owners are seeing their new, green image tainted by counterfeits and parallel imports. Counterfeits of lesser quality than the originals threaten to damage the reputations and legitimacy of sustainable companies in cases where consumers mistake the counterfeits for authentic products. Parallel imports (authentic products being sold outside of official distribution channels) can also harm brand owners, as the distribution channels used may be less reputable and are unlikely to comply with the legal or sustainability standards expected by consumers. If companies wish to provide environmentally, socially,
and economically sustainable products and services and maintain a sustainable brand image, then protecting that brand from counterfeits and parallel imports is vital.

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