Alibaba founder Jack Ma stirred controversy when he was quoted as saying that Chinese counterfeit goods are cheaper and of comparable quality to the real thing. However, Ma has now said that his comments were taken out of context and has clarified his stance through an editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
Ma’s earlier comments came during an investor meeting; where the business tycoon says that he was merely making an observation on the changing dynamics between manufacturing partners and brands.
He explains that there has been a significant reduction in the amount of orders from Western brands; a situation that leaves many factories idle. This leads to the businesses having to adapt to the new reality as they have already made investments into factories, equipment, and people.
Ma reiterated Alibaba’s stand against counterfeit products, going to provide examples of the measures implemented by the e-commerce site. The company supposedly uses an advanced algorithm to identify possible counterfeits being sold through its store. This algorithm is advanced enough that Alibaba is able to proactively remove eight counterfeit listings for every takedown request filed by a brand owner.
Alibaba is taking a stand against counterfeit products and actively assists law enforcement agencies in cracking down on counterfeiters. Ma writes that this is done to protect shareholders and ensure that customers are not “hurt by shoddy fake products.” It should be pointed out that he got into this trouble because he claimed that these fake products are just as good as the real thing.
The clarification and explanations from Ma may not be enough to completely fix the damage done; and looks like more of a damage control exercise for shareholders. Alibaba customers are used to the idea that there is a large number of listing for fake goods; and there is little that the e-commerce site can do about it except play whack-a-mole every time a counterfeiter appears.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]