The Importance of Brand Protection from the Perspective of a Packaging Student

Connor Mitchell
A-CAPP Student Intern and School of Packaging class of ’22
Michigan State University

The A-CAPP Center prides itself on offering MSU students unique experiential learning opportunities through our one-of-a-kind student internship program. Because brand protection/anti-counterfeiting is not yet its own unique discipline, our program draws in students from across the university. Since the inception of the program, we have hosted graduate and undergraduate students from disciplines such as Criminal Justice, Psychology, History, Packaging, Supply Chain Management, Chemistry, Engineering, Computer Science, and International Relations, just to name a few. Additionally, over the past several years we have consistently brought in high-performing law students who have an interest in intellectual property law. The A-CAPP Center’s student intern program reflects the disciplinary rainbow that is found within the field of brand protection. The interdisciplinary nature of this field requires diverse schools of thought and the amalgamation of distinct yet complimentary skill sets. As such, one of the key goals of the A-CAPP Center’s student intern program is to give some of MSU’s most outstanding students the opportunity to develop transferable and practical skills that they can use to launch their careers. If you would like to know more about how you can engage with our student interns, support our student programming, or hire one of our students, please reach out to Kari Kammel, Assistant Director of Education and Outreach for more information.

 Jay P. Kennedy, PhD
Assistant Director of Research, A-CAPP

Why I chose packaging

At the start of my college career, I was unsure of a major and enrolled in a couple of introductory packaging courses. The content was intriguing, and I was especially drawn to the fact that this field is relatively unknown. I really liked that the courses were challenging and the knowledge I obtained could also be used in other majors if I ever had a change of heart. I believe packaging is underrated and largely unknown or misunderstood by most people. Furthermore, once people learn about all of the science and innovation involved, as well as impact of packaging on the environment and economy, they are quite fascinated by it. This is what grabbed my attention the most – all of the advancements that have been made to packaging and how important they are to products, yet many people don’t realize just how crucial it is. 

I am now halfway through my junior year and have completed the grueling prerequisites of the program and find myself enrolled in more packaging-focused courses. I still have much to learn about my chosen field in general and am excited to be able to focus more on my major. I am open to many things but have developed a particular interest in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging because of the importance of it and the growth that it will have in the future. “The growing pharmaceutical & healthcare sector is projected to be the fastest-growing end-use sector in the next five years.” (, 2020). With this growth, the need for brand protection will increase with it and A-CAPP is the best place to learn and develop my knowledge.

Early perceptions on importance of packaging for brand protection

In that introductory course during my freshman year, A-CAPP came to speak to our class; explaining their program and the importance of how it specifically relates to packaging. I learned how tiny details could help identify a legitimate product from a counterfeit one. Prior to that introduction, I was aware that counterfeiting is a problem that many companies face, but aside from hearing about “knock-off jerseys” or fake tennis shoes, I never gave much thought to brand protection, or even associated it to the packaging of products or how it could protect consumers from counterfeits. This opened my eyes to the magnitude of the problem, and that packaging is one of the first and most important defenses against it. 

Even though I am just starting with A-CAPP, I am learning that counterfeit medical products are a big problem especially in underdeveloped parts of the world. I have also learned that it is a growing market and the need for anti-counterfeiting packaging is only going to rise. “The global market for anti-counterfeit packaging is projected to grow from USD 106.3 billion in 2020 to reach USD 188.2 billion by 2025, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 12.09%,” according to Global News Wire (, 2020).  This article goes on to say that many factors play a part in the market, including brand awareness, consumer education, e-commerce, developments in printing technology, and the concerns of the impact of counterfeiting on brand image of products. Although it is very early in my curriculum at the school of packaging, I’m not sure how much this topic will be covered for students in our classes. I know that students are aware that counterfeiting is a problem, but I’m not sure they are aware of how big the problem is and how big of a role packaging plays no matter what branch of packaging they are interested in. A-CAPP is helping me fill that knowledge-gap and better prepare me for the future.

What do I want to get out of A-CAPP?

I applied for an internship position with A-CAPP and was fortunate to begin working for the Center in January. My learning began during my interview! We talked about medical packaging and how counterfeiting is a major problem in this industry, recently exaggerated because of COVID-19. I now see a natural relationship with packaging and how more awareness can help defend against it. I am looking forward to learning about medical packaging and what can be done from the packaging standpoint to help prevent counterfeiting and ensure brand protection. I am excited to obtain some hands-on experience with testing and reviewing products and the methods professionals use for authentication. I will be working on a project with actual counterfeit medical products and I am very excited to learn about them and the role packaging plays specifically for these types of high-risk products. Hopefully there can be some hands-on work but given the current state of our world that is to be determined. Regardless, I am gaining exposure to new things about packaging and counterfeiting that I could not learn anywhere else. And, I am going to go through my coursework with a new perspective that many of my classmates may not have discovered yet. I’m grateful to have the opportunity for this exposure and know that it will be an asset to me in my future work.

Although there may be many advanced methods developed that make it harder to counterfeit various products, none of that matters if the consumer is not informed and aware of it as well. That is where I believe A-CAPP does its best work, in educating people and consumers about the problem at hand and showing them how serious it is. 

Read more about A-CAPP internships and externships, how to apply and ways to support them at Student Programs.