Olaplex takes on dupe brands at their own game

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Olaplex’s Oladupé is a faux brand designed to tackle the duping problem
Olaplex’s Oladupé is a faux brand designed to tackle the duping problem

Related tags dupes imitations

Fueled by social media, the rise of dupe beauty and personal care brands is impacting a broad range of premium players, but hair care brand Olaplex is fighting back in a unique way.

Oladupé is a completely faux brand, launched by Olaplex in response to mounting numbers of imitation brands sold in various online channels, particularly some of the most popular social media platforms.

According to Olaplex, its hair care range is one of the most duped hair care brands on TikTok, with creators posting dupe content that has generated more than 30 million views on the back of the #olaplexdupe.

"Olaplex is the real deal, a brand that is truly "undupable," and the foundation of this is our underlying technology, which is peerless in the industry," ​said JuE Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Olaplex.

"Olaplex is known by consumers and the industry as a socially native brand.  This campaign tapped into the cultural zeitgeist, meeting consumers where they are and playfully educating them on the one-of-a-kind and proven repair and strengthening benefits of our bond-building technology, which cannot be copied or duped."

Educating consumers about dupes

Claiming to ‘dupe the dupers on TikTok’, the campaign ran up more than 5 million views within the first few days of launching on TikTok. It aims to educate online shoppers about the potential pitfalls of buying dupe alternatives.

According to Olaplex, it has been monitoring online duping activity using social media listening tools, and launched Oladupé to demonstrate ‘that the only company that could actually dupe Olaplex, is Olaplex itself’.

At a recent unveiling event for the faux brand, Olaplex invited over 100 influencers, including Dimate, Shae Alexis and Audrey Boos, along with celebrity ‘duper’ Taylor Madison.

A dedicated faux website

Packaged and labeled almost identically to the Olaplex eponymous hair care range, a few differences were made in the label, which clearly indicated that Oladupé ‘repairs and strengthens just like the original’, while also encouraging consumers to visit oladupé.com to find out more about the campaign.

The dedicated website also served as a resource to promote the range of authentic products, highlighting the fact that its bond-building formulations feature 160+ patents, developed thanks to extensive work from its dedicated research and development team.

To develop the idea around Oladupé, Olaplex teamed up with Movers+Shakers, an agency that helps create consumer brands that appeal to online consumers, and more specifically, social media shoppers.

"We're thrilled to partner with Olaplex on this industry-first campaign that authentically puts Olaplex directly into the middle of the social media conversation around its undupable product,"​ said Geoffrey Goldberg, CCO and Co-Founder of Movers+Shakers. "Oladupé was created to prove that there's no real 'dupe' for the real thing."

Other strategies to fight dupes

Premium brands have several options to fight back against duping. Olaplex has chosen to use social media to communicate directly with the same audience that is buying Olaplex dupes, using the opportunity to educate consumers about the advantages of buying non-dupe products.

Premium Brands can also fight back by being more price competitive - including launching trial-sizes and smaller-sizes, as well as special offers - but these strategies need to be carefully curated in an effort to not simultaneously devalue the brand.

Duping is also giving way to rising demand for brand protection services, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated thanks to the latest generation of Artificial Intelligence-led technology that is helping to track duping activity online.

Brand protection agency Red Point has more than doubled the number of businesses it provides protection services to since 2018, currently working with more than 1200 consumer brands, including luxury beauty players. In 2020 Red Point saw a 56% increase in the number of counterfeit products sold online, a period that coincided with lockdowns.

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