Making Product Claims - How to Not Get Flagged for False Advertising
Transparency is crucial: If your employees, partners, or customers realize that you’ve been hiding something important, there could be consequences to pay. The best way to avoid this kind of trouble is to communicate openly and be honest about your products. You want your products to seem like they’re the best they could possibly be so your customers will be more interested in buying them, but you never want to lie about your products in order to sell them.
If you’re caught selling products with erroneous labels or making claims that the scientific and medical community can’t back up, there will be numerous implications for your consumers, your brand, and the security of your job. Be honest at all times and ask questions when you need to, rather than assuming you know what’s right. If you want to avoid being flagged for false advertising, here’s what you need to know about making product claims.
Be Careful with Sensitive Products
Certain types of products are subjected to more strict rules and regulations than others when it comes to labeling and advertising. While it’s always important that consumers know exactly what they’re purchasing, there are some areas where false advertising can be deadly. These are some of the more sensitive products on the market:
- Medical Products — Medicine is a necessity, and for some people, it’s a matter of life and death. Being on the right kind of medication can dramatically improve your quality of life, your mindset, and your physical health.
By making false claims about medications, businesses prevent sick people from getting the help they truly need. This delays treatment and reduces quality of life, and it can discourage people from continuing the fight against their disease.
On the other hand, not labeling enough could be just as dangerous, if not more, as overstating what your medical product can do. If your medicine makes someone drowsy and is not labeled warning about that side-effect, someone may take it and unknowingly operate some sort of heavy machinery and hurt themselves or someone else. Medicines interact with certain foods and other medicine in bizarre ways sometimes so having any potential side-effect labeled is paramount. It is of the absolute utmost importance that medication is marketed and labeled accurately and appropriately.
- Vitamins and Supplements — Like medication, vitamins and supplements can give you the boost you need to get through the day comfortably and confidently. The body needs certain levels of vitamins, and vitamin deficiencies affect countless people all over the globe. False advertising makes it more difficult for people to find the vitamins and supplements that they need, causing them to waste time and deal with unnecessary frustration.
- Cosmetics — Since looking your best has become such a priority in today’s society, cosmetics companies market in full force. There’s nothing wrong with providing consumers with acne treatments and self-esteem boosting makeup—unless brands do so with false claims. Many people value their personal appearances to a great degree, and faulty products won’t get them any closer to their goals. Furthermore, consumers might have adverse reactions to cosmetic products, possibly even resulting in permanent physical injury.
- Food and Drink — Knowing how to find exactly what you’re looking for in the supermarket will save you some time and help keep your kids healthy. On the other hand, it’s difficult to tell what you’re buying if the labels aren’t accurate. Food companies have often used terms that don’t actually apply to their products in order to get them to sell, and sometimes they use terms that don’t actually mean anything at all. People need to know if their food or drink product is going to set off their allergies or aggravate an existing condition.
Phrase Your Claims Properly
If you want to get your products off of the shelves but you don’t want to be flagged for false advertisement, you need to understand how to correctly phrase your claims. The idea is that you want to describe your product in a way that makes it appealing to consumers, but you don’t want to say anything deceptive that can ultimately harm them. Your business will be responsible for any claim you make regarding your products, and you’ll be held accountable if you’re caught lying.
There are certain key phrases that tend to be thrown around in the marketing world, and they’re often erroneous. One such phrase is “guaranteed results”. If you can’t promise that the product will deliver on the results you guarantee, you’re guilty of false advertising. The statement implies that the customer will have a 100% chance of enjoying the expected results, and they have every right to be angry if they don’t.
All kinds of businesses find themselves in false advertising trouble when they’re not careful, but it’s relatively easy to stay in the clear. Don’t make claims that you can’t back up, and describe your products accurately. If you sell a food product that could potentially make you smarter or strengthen your immune system, don’t advertise them that way until you know for sure. Remember that just because you believe in your product doesn’t mean you can make claims that are not scientifically backed.
Know What the FDA Allows
The Food and Drug Administration decides what you should and shouldn’t say while promoting your products, and they also decide what you can and can’t put into your goods. If you work with food or medicine, you should be absolutely positive about what types of ingredients you can use. You should also be crystal clear on the terminology you can use to promote them, or you could suffer a false advertising lawsuit. Keep in mind that when it comes to marketing and selling medication, over-the-counter drugs are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission rather than the FDA.
What Being Flagged Could Mean
There is a multitude of potential punishments for those who are flagged for false advertising. You may have to pay significant amounts of money as the result of a lawsuit, or if you go to trial, you’ll have to pay legal fees. You may also have to offer refunds and pay reparations to consumers who purchased items from your company but didn’t get the results they were promised. On top of these financial costs, being flagged for false advertising can tarnish your brand image. In this case, it helps to issue a formal public apology.
Not all companies that are flagged for false advertising end up apologizing. Some stand by their slogans and campaigns and decide to settle just so they can move on without dealing with the distraction of a court case. If you find yourself in this position, be courteous and explain the situation to your customers.
Being flagged for false advertising might not be the end of your company, but it’s still something that should be avoided at all costs. Knowing that it may deceive your customers and ruin your brand image should be enough to keep you in the right lane. Properly phrasing your claims, especially when dealing with particularly sensitive products, helps keep you honest and out of trouble. If you do get flagged for false advertising, remember to communicate efficiently and issue a statement reiterating how much you care about your customers and the community.