When Chinese social ecommerce platform Pinduoduo exploded in popularity this year, it wasn’t just because it encourages sharing group buys on social media. It’s also because it offers a bunch of cheap stuff – among which are clones of well-known brands as well as outright forgeries.
But now, the seller of clones itself is being cloned. It has almost the same name, logo, and business model. It also plans to sell almost the exact same types of products. It’s Pinshaoshao.
Ironically, Pinshaoshao is the kind of product that made Pinduoduo famous in the first place, enabling the US$21 billion company to list itself at the Nasdaq stock exchange in just three years. Pinduoduo has been trying to improve its image of a counterfeit kingdom by removing over 4 million listings of counterfeit goods within a single week in August.
However, this reputation is hard to shake off, especially since you can still buy goods on Pinduoduo that might not be outright fakes… but they’re very close. This includes Supremeis sports shoes, Schwarbstrong hairspray (inspired by German brand Schwartzkopf), and more versions of Pampers than you would dare to imagine.
Although the platform is still being tested and its trademark has not yet been formally approved by China’s State Trademark Office, Pinshaoshao has attracted much attention in Chinese media. Copying brands has been a long-time tradition in China, but you don’t often see an entire ecommerce platform being copied.
The reason behind blatant rip-offs such is that China’s intellectual property legal regulations are lacking. Although times are changing, there are still few legal means to protect intellectual property in cases where one brand simply copies the designs of another brand.
Many foreign companies have learned this the hard way, including sportswear brand Under Armour, which discovered its twin brother Uncle Martian in China. Pinduoduo told Abacus News that they would prefer not to comment on their new potential rival.
After the media rushed to call Pinshaoshao a clone, the company, owned by Shenzhen Hongxin Retail Enterprise Management Co., published an explanation on Thursday of why they chose this particular approach to present itself.
Pinshaoshao said that they did “carelessly” try to jump on Pinduoduo’s fame, but that there are no ill intentions behind it. They also noted that they chose their name as a playful reminder of their famous rival’s weaknesses.
Pinduoduo’s name literally means “together more more,” embodying its strategy of recruiting shoppers on social media for group and bulk purchases of cheap and often low-quality goods. Knock-off Pampers are some of those.
On the other hand, Pinshaoshao’s name means “together less less.” The company said it believes that having a huge amount of goods available for sale inevitably leads to problems in product quality. That’s why their strategy is to sell cheap but good products… which also means less.
In its press release, Pinshaoshao wrote: “We believe: less is more, slower is faster! Step by step, we’ll do a solid job! Success comes sooner or later.”