Alibaba President Michael Evans: Lots of Work To Do on Communicating Our Anti-counterfeit Efforts

    Michael Evans, Alibaba President, said that Alibaba should communicate more about the company's anti-counterfeit efforts during the WWD CEO Summit.
    Michael Evans, CEO of the Alibaba Group, speaks during the launch of the 2015 TMall 11.11 Global Shopping Festival at the company's head quarters in Hangzhou,  China on October 13, 2015.   Qilai Shen / Bloomberg
    Yiling PanAuthor
      Published   in Profile

    As China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group steps up their efforts in entering the luxury arena, a critical question that remains unanswered is, “Is Alibaba doing enough to fight the massive counterfeit listings on its platforms?”

    Recent statistics provided at Alibaba President Michael Evans’ talk at the WWD’s Apparel & Retail CEO Summit show that more than half of the survey respondents (51 percent) believe the company is “not doing as much as it says it is doing,” 39 percent of them believe it is “starting to take the right steps,” and only 10 percent of respondents agree that Alibaba is “doing everything it can be expected to do.”

    After the statistics were revealed, the audience waited for the defense from Evans on these harsh findings.

    “The communication and understanding of IP protection issues takes a long time for brand and retailers to appreciate and understand,” said Evans, who attributed the low satisfaction rate on Alibaba’s anti-counterfeit development to a lack of communication in the market.

    The former top Goldman Sachs executive, who joined the group in 2015, also spoke from his personal experience, revealing how he slowly learned about the complexity of the counterfeiting issues in China as a person who had no background in this area before arriving at Alibaba.

    After forming the Alibaba Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance earlier this year along with big luxury players including Louis Vuitton and Kering, Alibaba also upgraded its IP protection platform in August with the aim of speeding up the process of the detection of fake goods. On that platform, Evans said, “they take down tens of thousands of fake products every day”.

    Evans also referred to Luxury Pavilion, a groundbreaking service the firm launched a few months ago, as evidence of expressing an increased confidence felt by luxury labels towards the company.

    “If you look at [what] we do at the Luxury Pavilion, and ask luxury brands the same question, it will complete the answer,” said Evans.

    Indeed, a great number of high-level luxury brands including Loewe and Burberry have launched on Luxury Pavilion in the hopes of reaching a targeted number of affluent Chinese consumers who are pre-selected by Alibaba based on their big data analysis.

    However, the counterfeiting issue is poised to continue to become a major concern for luxury brands when it comes to working with the e-commerce giant going forward.

    Effective communication on what the company has done, as suggested by Evans, is definitely helpful in convincing brands and merchants. But, what they truly want to see is, most likely, tangible results showing that Alibaba’s anti-counterfeit effort is genuine.

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