In this festive season, consumer activity reaches its peak. Marketing campaigns come up with new attractive offers to impress customers. Insofar as these campaigns help consumers make informed decision, these are useful. However, when the marketeers go beyond that, and make confusing claims, it could leave the customers vulnerable to unfair practices. We have seen more and more marketing campaigns, especially relating to the cosmetic and beauty products, that tend to make unrealistic claims in order to influence customers’ choices.
You might come across a beautiful lady announcing arrival of a “miracle” serum that is “clinically proven” to reduce wrinkles and lines. Many of such claims seem practically outrageous—after all, can something in a bottle actually make you look ten years younger? According to a survey published in Journal of Global Fashion and Marketing, only 18 percent of all claims made in commercials for cosmetics prove to be trustworthy.
Same survey completed a content analysis of advertising claims, looking at the following types: superiority, such as "award-winning product;" scientific, like "clinically proven;" stand-alone performance ("your skin feels softer"); endorsement, such as "dermatologists recommend this;" and subjective, like "all you need for a day of confidence." Similarly, they classified each ad's claim as vague/ambiguous ("inspired by science"), an omission, a false/outright lie, or as acceptable.
Despite the variation of categories and claims, only 18 percent of the 757 claims reviewed actually stood up to their advertised features. Makeup ads made most of the claims in the beauty industry—294 of them. For other classifications, researchers found that almost half of the brands reviewed actually make false scientific or subjective claims.
All of this suggests that even though the FDA monitors the cosmetics industry, they can only guarantee that the beauty products are safe. It's really up to consumers to determine whether the ingredients in that bottle will solve their skincare woes. Be wary of any miracle products that don't have a scientific study or unaffiliated doctor specifically backing up its claims.
Consumers need to be cautious of weasel words – that appear substantial upon first look but disintegrate into hollow meaninglessness on closer look. Commonly used weasel words include "helps" (the champion weasel); "like" (used in a comparative sense); "virtual" or "virtually"; "acts" or "works"; "can be"; "up to"; "as much as"; "refreshes"; "comforts"; "tackles"; "fights"; "the feel of"; "the look of"; "looks like"; "fortified"; "enriched"; and "strengthened."
Many companies are coming up with “new scientific research” backing an “amazing wrinkle-repairer” formulation; the new ingredients are too new to make sense even to experienced cosmetologists. Many scientific studies do not find place in reputed scientific journals; they just vaguely refer to an unknown study group. The best bet for the consumer is therefore to read the ingredients on the label and assess the suitability of the product.
We at the Herbally Radiant always print ingredients on the labels of the products to enable the customers to learn about their properties and their effect on the skin.