Monday, October 29, 2012

Fake 'The Body Shop' Store in Changsha, China

Today in Changsha, (mainland) China, I saw this store:

fake The Body Shop store in Changsha, China

And now a relevant piece of information from The Body Shop's online site for Hong Kong:
Does The Body Shop operate in Mainland China?

No, The Body Shop does not currently operate in Mainlaind China. We have no stores or online shopping presence. The Body Shop cannot guarantee the quality or authenticity of any products purchased in Mainland China.
So I paused for a few moments as I was passing by. And then, of course, I went inside.

One column of shelves was dedicated to products from The Body Shop. The rest of the store featured similar products mostly from German and Australian companies.

On the side, one of the Australian products was "Essence of Kangaroo". I wondered why anyone would want this type of essence. After a quick online search I found that some brands claim it is an aphrodisiac (with an extra kick?) made up from ground meat and other items such as kangaroo sperm. I am unsure of the trustworthiness of some of the stores so I will not bother linking to them. However, maybe it is worth noting a short article on The Guardian titled "Essence of kangaroo among scams to fleece Sydney tourists".

Anyways, a saleswoman in the store confirmed one of my suspicions. She claimed that The Body Shop products were originally purchased in Hong Kong, where there are numerous legitimate stores. Although it is conceivable that the products in this store are counterfeits, the containers showed no obvious signs of this. Plus, my familiarity with the extensive grey market that exists between Hong Kong/Macau and mainland China* makes the bought-in-Hong-Kong story rather plausible to me. However, I am not an expert in identifying fake cosmetic products, and as noted above there is no guarantee from The Body Shop regarding the products' quality or authenticity.

Like the many "fake" Apple stores I have seen in China, there may be improper uses of trademarks, but the related products being sold appear to be genuine. Given its use of The Body Shop trademark and the placement of the name were a store's name typically appears, I think it is fair to call this a "fake The Body Shop store".

How to characterize the Essence of Kangaroo is another issue, though.

*Some examples of the cross-border grey-market transport of goods in a post here.

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