A multinational alcoholic beverage company that manufactures 16 different types of top-shelf spirits from beer to whiskey. The company is one of the largest distillers in the world and currently distributes to over 180 countries.
In India, the company began experiencing high levels of counterfeiting, from bottle duplication to the refilling of spent bottles. The loss in revenue—and more importantly the safety of consumers—became a major concern. This led the company to research brand protection solutions.
Previously the company had assessed numerous technologies, but none were deemed effective for its use case in terms of risk mitigation or permissible in terms of cost absorption. To ensure that both parameters were met, the company embarked on a new analysis of 15 different solutions including overt, covert and forensic technologies.
The primary needs for a robust solution were:
These requirements lead to the adoption of UniSecure®, Systech’s non-additive authentication solution powered by digital e-Fingerprint® technology.
Once the decision was made to partner with Systech, the company launched a field study to fully document the utility of the program. A popular brand was chosen, and it was decided that the initial pilot would involve 1.5 million units belonging to one specific SKU.
Systech collaborated closely with the company to design the pilot study details. Collectively they determined that it was best to perform the e-Fingerprint process at the label supplier’s plant using the linear UPC barcode on the back label. From here the e-Fingerprinted product labels were delivered to a chosen distillery and then authenticated via the Systech mobile application in the field.
The field study was conducted by five inspectors through random selection of products in the marketplace that were known to have been e-Fingerprinted by way of the batch number.
The results were deemed to be excellent in terms of both accuracy and response time. Products that were not e-Fingerprinted consistently returned a negative result, reinforcing the fact that counterfeit labels will fail authentication, whereas labels on genuine products will be confirmed as authentic. Plus, the inspectors were able to check authenticity in real time with a quick scan using the Systech app on their own smartphones.
A key feature of the UniSecure setup is that any barcode that cannot be properly captured by the system will result in instant stoppage of the winder unit so that the label can be run through again or removed. This utility ensures that every product—and its associated barcode—entering the market has been properly captured and stored in the Systech cloud.
Based on the successful pilot, the customer decided to proceed to production—with the first phase encompassing four major spirit brands in India. The company views the UniSecure deployment as a major accomplishment toward its brand protection objectives that will elevate the confidence of its supply chain partners. A future program involving consumers is being considered to increase engagement and brand awareness.
The efficacy and robustness of the UniSecure platform has inspired the company to become an advocate for anti-counterfeiting in the India alcoholic beverage market. As a result, Systech is now working with several key influencers, as well as government authorities to establish a broad framework for drastically reducing the trade in counterfeit liquor, beer and wine.
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