June 26, 2023

Why Limiting Your Product’s Important Benefits to Purchases From Your Authorized Sellers Is Pro-consumer, Pro-safety, and Brand-Positive (and How Influencers Can Help)


It is well-known that brands face constant challenges in their eCommerce channels. Unauthorized sellers, stolen and counterfeit products, and other disrupters can drive down revenues and hurt the brand’s reputation. Most brands implement a holistic eControl Program comprised of data, technology, and legal services to efficiently and effectively address these issues. An eControl Program works best when key leadership within the brand is aligned to its process and objectives. But getting alignment from outside the brand – from both consumers and influencers – can also be important to the brand in implementing the eControl Program.

For example, the material benefits (often warranties and satisfaction guarantees that are limited to purchases from a brand’s authorized seller network) frequently help form the “unauthorized seller legal foundation” component of the eControl Program. This is often an area where combining internal and external alignment can be important.

Internally, the brand’s customer service teams may worry that limiting a product’s important benefits to purchases from authorized sellers may actually hurt, not help, their brand. They worry it may alienate customers who learn that the product is warranted or guaranteed only if it’s purchased from an authorized seller.

Externally, this worry may be even greater for brands who rely heavily on social media influencing for brand awareness and growth, where a bad move in customer satisfaction can potentially make a brand go viral for the wrong reasons – either through a product or influencer review.

Fortunately, this worry is largely misplaced and outweighed by the benefits to both consumers and brands of limiting important product benefits to products purchased from authorized sellers. Why? Because this limitation is pro-consumer, pro-safety, and brand-positive. Implemented and messaged appropriately and correctly, this component strengthens a brand’s reputation in the market. These benefits are further realized if the brand can bring some influencers into the fold.

Why is it pro-consumer, pro-safety, and brand-positive?

Limiting material benefits to purchases from a brand’s authorized sellers draws a quality-based line between the product sales by authorized sellers (subject to the brand’s quality controls and customer service standards) and everyone else – the diverters and bad actors who are not subject to such controls and are not even aware of them. As a result, the products that these unauthorized sellers sell on Amazon, Walmart, and other online forums may be damaged, prior models, previously used, broken, expired, or even counterfeit.

This is why many brands limit their important product benefits to only those sellers who are subject to the brand’s quality controls. For sellers who are not subject to such controls, the potential for a poor customer experience is much higher.

This is also where bloggers and influencers can become important allies. These persons can educate audiences about the pro-consumer and pro-safety aspects of buying from a brand’s authorized sellers; this can be a particularly important topic in certain product verticals, like baby gear and other consumables. By relating the unique benefits of buying products from the brand’s authorized sellers, bloggers and influencers can protect their followers’ interests while supporting the brand’s efforts to deliver on its promises.

So how specifically can influencers help?

Here are a few suggestions for getting bloggers or influencers to support a brand’s efforts:

  • Create a link on your brand’s website, or add to your FAQs, a section that provides information about how and why your warranties, guarantees, or other material benefits are limited to purchases from authorized sellers.
  • If your brand engages directly with any influencers or bloggers, take the time to educate them about your brand-protection program and why the brand takes product integrity and safety so seriously. This could be communicated by an influencer in a written post or even a live video.
  • Equip your customer service team with talking points to use with customers who buy from unauthorized sellers and empower your customer service team to educate consumers about how and where to buy from authorized sellers moving forward. Frequently, end-user purchasers do not know how to buy from a specific third-party seller on online marketplaces and may be grateful to learn. Also keep in mind that influencers themselves may engage directly with your brand’s customer service team and then tell their followers about that experience.

If you have any questions about limiting your product’s material benefits to purchases from authorized sellers, or how influencers can be wielded to spread that message, please contact your Vorys eControl attorney or contact us here.