Words Matter- What You Say Can Hurt You!
Rejuvenate, erase, tone, moisturize, restore, repair, firm, natural, are common words and phrases found on packaging and advertising, but before you start printing your labels and cartons or running your ads make sure you know the difference between product claims and marketing copy and how they could impact your business.
· The top 10 beauty markets are located on different continents with specific rules and regulations governing their labeling requirements, marketing copy, and advertising claims.
· Product formula, packaging, and advertising must be compliant in each country and registered to sell within a region like E.U. or specific countries.
· Making misleading or false claims/statements can be expensive to resolve.
· Depending on the country, you may have to substantiate your claims/statements.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission regulates advertising claims. A few years ago, they punished a handful of small companies for stating that their beauty products were "all-natural" when they contained dimethicone, polyethylene, and phenoxyethanol listed on their product labels. In another case, a company selling CBD facial masks and lip products had to pay $1.76 million to the FTC because it was found to have deceived consumers with packaging that was labeled organic and vegan, however the products contained honey and lactose (animal-based ingredients).
This issue of marketing copy and product claims goes beyond smaller startups and has impacted large multinationals. In July 2021, Global Cosmetic New reported, "The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has been fined 400,000 yuan (US$61,920) due to misleading claims on a Clinique product. Clinique’s Fresh Pressed Daily Booster was sold on Tmall and claimed to improve pockmarks and reduce wrinkles within four weeks while improving the healing power of skin within 12 weeks. The Chinese administration refuted these claims, stating that Clinique was unable to provide proof.”
With low barriers to entry and the boom of the direct-to-consumer channel, brands are often coming to market with catchy, on-trend statements and promises that could be considered product claims, not just marketing jargon.
Of course, brands and products need clear USPs (Unique Selling Points) and copy to describe the value they provide to the consumer, but it can be tricky to select the words that best describe the product and results without crossing a line.
At Buzz, we follow the below process to stay compliant:
1. We determine the countries a brand wants to sell in and work to develop the formula, packaging, and advertising copy that can ideally work across all the desired markets with minimal adaptations.
2. For new products, we develop briefs (both formula and packaging) so our chemists and copywriters know our desired goals and what we want to say about the product.
3. We verify all the final statements with the formulation team as well as a legal professional, so they can provide confirmation or edits.
4. We work with a regulatory specialist to review packaging and formula according to the requirements of each market we will be entering.
5. Additionally, we work with claims substantiation companies to provide the data/support for the markets that mandate it.
While we understand this can take time and cost money, the alternative (fines, recalls, lawsuits, and/or putting consumers in harm’s way) could be far worse.