The number of complaints, especially for beauty products, received by agencies such as Advertising Standards Agency and the Better Business Bureau are on the steady rise.
A recent opinion poll, based on a sample of cosmetics advertisements in Vogue, Glamour, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle and People StyleWatch, revealed that a mere 17% of respondents trusted the advertising industry, 39% were cynical toward advertising, 7% were deceptiveness-wary (they acknowledge advertising is somehow beneficial without trusting it) and 16% regarded advertising as deceptively harmful. Out of a sample of 621 ad claims, only 136 were found to follow fair marketing campaigns.
Most cosmetic claims suggest that well-being and happiness as a result of applying cosmetic products, yet there is usually no substantiation of the claims, and those who back the claims with “scientific evidence” and “consumer testing” often use questionable methodologies for their substantiation. Some examples of cosmeceuticals include anti-aging or anti-wrinkle products, fat-reducing creams and facial scrubs for smoother, firmer, more evenly pigmented skin. In the case of cosmeceuticals, the products claim to eliminate wrinkles, rather than simply disguise them.
We at Herbally Radiant have been highlighting this problem of unethical marketing claims, more so in the case of web-based suppliers. In a case of specific benefits of products, these should be clearly explained to consumers, and comparisons should be stated thoroughly and completely. For instance, if the product is “award-winning”, the claims should present unambiguously when, where and what awards have been received by the advertiser.
For scientific claims, the concrete evidence of ingredients, the scientific research processes used and lab results should be provided in laymen's terminology. As such, consumers would have clear understanding of such claims. For performance claims, marketers should also provide concrete or supporting evidence (e.g. explain how and why lip gloss can last for 12 hours).
There are also increasing concerns about environmental issues among consumers. It would be desirable to indicate clearly whatever environmental attributes might be germane to the product – for example, that the product was not pretested on animals prior to being distributed to consumers in general.
Additionally, research has also showed that luxury perception may differ depending on the visual art employed. Some of these visual arts are similar to the concept of “radical fashion” (i.e. that unlikely to be adapted in reality). Consumers need to understand cautiously the purpose of the images presented and the claims made in cosmetics advertisements.
To our customers, Herbally Radianthas been advising following cautions :
i) An expensive product doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting better quality.
ii) The salespeople at the cosmetics store aren’t skin-care experts. They are trained to sell; they are not necessarily trained to understand cosmetic formulations, different types of skin and their characteristics. Selling cosmetics is of course a great career.
iii) Just one high-sounding ingredient or formulation is not the right answer for, say, anti-aging treatment. The customer has to make his/her own assessment about the efficacy of the product after reading the detailed ingredients.
iv) Unfortunately, the cosmetic sellers do not follow satisfactory ‘return policy’. It is, therefore, all the more necessary to assess utility of the product before purchase, and lodge complaint with the agencies in case of deceptive marketing tricks.