My Experience with Philips Lighting Product Counterfeits & how to identify Originals



About 3 months ago, I bought three Philips energy saving bulbs in one of the major supermarket chains in Nairobi. The Kenya Power  campaign had worked and we ( Mister  and I ) had finally decided to slowly switch from the old model energy consuming bulbs to the new ones which I must say still cost a fortune (we are comparing 50 bob to 300 bob for 1 bulb).  We use a total of 10 bulbs and the last 3 were replacements of the old models.

Within a span of a month of  using the bulbs, they all eventually failed. I could not wrap my head around how a bulb that is supposed to last 8 years failed within just months of using. I went to a different supermarket, bought 3 more bulbs and the same thing happened again. At that point, I decided that the whole Energy Saving Bulbs campaign by Kenya Power was a hoax and went back to the 5o bob  ones which are still working up to now.

A counterfeit Philips bulb
One the counterfeit Philips bulbs we bought that failed

It did not make sense until I learnt of the ‘Buy Original’ Campaign by Philips the makers of most lighting products in Kenya. It turns out, I was being duped into thinking I was buying Philips bulbs when all along, they were counterfeits. Problem is, they even had the KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards) sticker on them complete with all the Philips logos(Yeah, China has become that good).

Royal Philips  this week launched its Buy Original” campaign; an informative multi-year outreach aimed at protecting consumers, creating awareness about counterfeit products in the market and educating consumers in identifying an original genuine product versus a counterfeit one.

The Philips “Buy Original” campaign kicks-off in Kenya and will move across Sub-Saharan Africa in Quarter One 2015. Philips will be introducing innovative hologram security stickers (for lamps) and providing a unique 16 digit code validation code for all Philips Lighting products, as well as the “original” sticker for their consumer lifestyle and lighting products to enable consumers to easily and instantaneously identify originals.

This is being supported by a two-year guarantee on all original Philips products as well as a comprehensive Point-of-Sale (instore) and media led customer education programme and an extensive print and radio advertisement campaign.

Philips is also setting up a sms number for authentication of the Philips Lighting portfolio in case of doubt; the consumer (in Kenya) has to send the 16-digit serial number of the lighting product via sms to 20222 and they will receive immediate feedback on whether the product they are planning to buy or have bought is genuine or fake. This is a pilot and if proven successful, Philips will explore rolling this out to the consumer lifestyle category of products too.


Counterfeit Philips bulbs Made in Lesotho
Counterfeit Philips bulbs Made in Lesotho

When purchasing Philips lighting products:

Make sure you find the unique code on the Security Label which will be on the box. In Kenya, you can SMS the 16-digit code to 20222 to receive verification of the product’s authenticity. (It would be a good idea to this while still in the supermarket before paying for the item)

The label is fitted with digital anti-forgery technology and is fixed with secure die-cutting which ensures it’s completely destroyed when removed making it impossible to add to non-Philips products.

Cost of Counterfeits to Global Economy

According to the Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) world-wide, cross border trade in physical counterfeits alone cost the global economy USD 250 billion a year. In Africa, counterfeit products are posing serious concerns for local economies and brands who have worked hard to build reputation and consumer confidence in their markets.

Consumers in most instances aren’t even aware that they are buying fake products; Philips wants to put consumers in a position that they are confident that they are purchasing an original Philips product.

Have you had an experience with counterfeit Philips lighting products? share with us in the comments section below.

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