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  • Writer's pictureKristin Harper

Product Claims in 2023: Misleading or Truthful?


Product Claims

The business world has always been a competitive landscape, with companies wanting to stand out in the crowd and gain an advantage over their competitors. As such, it’s no surprise that many businesses have made bold marketing claims about their products – all within the effort of triumphing over rivals and capturing a greater share. But how true are these claims? In today's blog post, we'll explore this topic further by delving into the importance of ensuring accuracy and truthfulness in order to protect your brand’s reputation as well as your customers. We'll take a look at upcoming technologies currently being used by marketing research professionals to validate information accuracy so that you can make informed decisions when assessing the truthfulness of stated claims before making them public. Get ready to learn more about what it takes for consumers -–and you—to trust product statements.


What is a product claim?

When it comes to advertising, understanding product claims is essential for any marketer. A claim is any statement made about a product’s performance, features, or benefits and is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that they are truthful, not deceptive, and substantiated with scientific evidence. These claims aim to persuade consumers to choose a specific product by highlighting its strengths and advantages over other brands. They can be very powerful marketing tools, but companies need to ensure that they are accurate and truthful, as false or misleading marketing claims can have devastating consequences. The purpose of these claims is to create brand awareness and convince customers to make a purchase. So, whether you’re an experienced marketer or just starting out, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of marketing claims and their role in advertising.


Factors that can influence product claims

In today's competitive environment, manufacturers continually develop and implement various tactics to position their products as superior to their competitors. One crucial aspect of this process is making assertions or declarations that a product possesses specific features, benefits, or qualities that can appeal to potential customers. However, it is essential to recognize that several factors influence these claims, and not all of them may be entirely accurate or scientifically supported.


Firstly, the validity depends significantly on the existence and quality of scientific research supporting them. Reputable manufacturers often invest in rigorous testing and scientific studies to ensure their claims are reliable and reflect the actual benefits that consumers can expect. However, some companies may make claims without sufficient research or cherry-pick evidence to overstate their product's effectiveness. Consequently, consumers are encouraged to critically examine any cited studies to determine the true extent of the support for a particular claim. Furthermore, third-party verification or regulatory oversight can further attest to the legitimacy of these claims, providing consumers with increased confidence in the quality.


Another factor that influences claims is the manufacturer's overall marketing strategy. Marketers may employ various tactics to make their offerings stand out among competitors or target specific consumer segments. For example, some manufacturers may focus on emphasizing the 'natural' or 'organic' aspects of their brand’s product to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Others may tap into the consumers' emotions or values, highlighting the product's environmentally friendly nature, charitable efforts or ethical sourcing practices. While these characteristics can indeed be valid selling points, it is essential to differentiate between genuine added value and superficial marketing tactics designed to drive sales without offering substantial benefits.


Importance of truthfulness

False or misleading product claims pose a significant risk to businesses across various industries. Such claims can lead to a myriad of legal issues, causing a company to face reputational damage to its brand, loss of shares, and financial instability. As the company strives to achieve success in its respective industry, it is imperative that it implements transparent and accurate marketing strategies to avoid the pitfalls of misrepresentation.


One critical legal issue that arises is consumer protection lawsuits. When businesses fail to accurately represent their products, they open the door for litigation by both consumers and regulatory entities alike. These lawsuits can result in hefty fines and penalties, which can cripple a company's financial resources. Furthermore, negative publicity surrounding a lawsuit can have lasting effects on a company's reputation to its brand, leading to a loss of consumer trust and jeopardizing future growth efforts. To mitigate these potential risks, businesses must ensure that their advertising and promotional materials are truthful, substantiated, and compliant with applicable laws and regulations, such as the FTC’s truth-in-advertising standards. By building a foundation of transparency and honesty, a company can protect itself from legal complications and maintain a positive relationship with its consumers.


Strategies for avoiding misleading or false product claims

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, companies often find themselves walking a fine line between promoting their products and services effectively and making misleading or false claims. Ensuring honesty and integrity in marketing communications is not only an ethical responsibility but a legal one, as false advertising and misleading claims can lead to serious consequences such as lawsuits and regulatory sanctions. In this context, it is essential for marketers to adopt strategies that allow them to maintain their credibility and avoid legal pitfalls.


Trust is the most crucial factor for customers when choosing a brand


One strategy to ensure that claims remain accurate and honest is involving a diverse group of stakeholders, from managers and marketers to legal experts and scientists, who can help in the development and validation of well-rounded, truthful messaging.


Moreover, conducting thorough research and testing before launching any promotional materials will provide insights into the claims that are believable and convincing, and those that aren’t. By acquiring a precise consumer understanding of potential features, benefits, and performance outcome claims, marketers can craft communication materials that genuinely reflect the qualities without overpromising or making false guarantees.


Another crucial strategy is transparency in communication. Marketers can build trust with consumers by being open and honest about any limitations or caveats their brand’s product might have. While focusing on strengths is important, recognizing its limitations and being clear about any circumstances where it might not perform as well can help build trust with the audience. Additionally, carefully selecting the appropriate channels and platforms for marketing campaigns can help ensure that advertising materials align with the values and expectations of the target audience. In this way, marketers can maintain their integrity and avoid backlash from overselling or manipulating consumers' expectations.


New technology to validate product claim accuracy

In the contemporary era of consumer-driven marketing, it is essential for marketing and sales professionals to validate and communicate accurate information. It is critical to ensure that the claims they advertise to the public remain truthful and rooted in facts. To achieve this, technology plays a pivotal role in the process of validating product claim accuracy. Such technology allows teams to carefully examine specifications and performance, thereby allowing informed decisions to be made before publicizing claims.


One notable technological innovation is the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning algorithms. These tools can quickly analyze enormous amounts of information, such as user reviews, product descriptions, and third-party lab results, providing a comprehensive synthesis of data that can aid the legal, regulatory, and cross-functional teams as they validate the integrity of claims. By harnessing the power of AI, teams can systematically analyze vast amounts of data, enabling them to rapidly arrive at potential conclusions that would otherwise be time-consuming and resource-intensive. A cautionary note: AI expedites the decision-making process and facilitates the swift unveiling of verified claims, reducing the risk of false advertising and false product claims that could lead to consumer dissatisfaction and legal implications; however, AI should not be used exclusively without the engagement of an expert cross-functional team.


Furthermore, blockchain technology has been receiving increasing attention for its potential to maintain secure records across distributed networks. This technology provides businesses with an additional layer of security to store and access data, ensuring that the information used to verify is reliable, transparent, and unaltered. By implementing blockchain solutions, professionals can maintain easily auditable records of their data sources, thus providing a foolproof justification for the claims they bring to the market.


Conclusion

Product claims are an increasingly important part of any business. Honest claims lead to trust, and trust leads to repeat customer purchases and increased sales for companies. It is essential to understand the factors that can influence claims, as well as avoid incorrect or exaggerated claims in order to maintain trust and keep satisfied customers. Additionally, new technology such as AI has made it easier than ever before to aggregate product claims as an aid to expert teams such as legal and regulatory. Despite all of the complexities associated with maintaining accuracy, brands with honest and truthful messaging can succeed. Making sure claims are correct and properly vetted can result in higher consumer confidence, generating meaningful brand loyalty and greater sales overall.

A company looking to develop, test, and consumer-validate claims should seek out an experienced market research company. By working with experts in the field, and partnering with your expert cross-functional team, a business can gain valuable insights into consumer attitudes and behaviors, as well as gain a better understanding of how to position their products for success. Moreover, partnering with a trusted firm can save a company time and cost by conducting the research and analysis required to communicate with confidence. So if you're looking to build credibility for your product or service, consider working with a company like Driven to Succeed, LLC to develop claims that deliver the value and benefits customers are looking for.

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Driven to Succeed is an award-winning global market research and consulting firm that compliments data (the “what”) with empathetic research and conversations (the “why”) to uncover actionable insights so mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands can innovate and grow. Our team has walked a mile in your shoes with over 100 years of experience in Market Research, Marketing, and P&L Management for global iconic brands and startup companies across diverse B2B and B2C industries.


Our proprietary NorthStar™ Message Consulting service helps your company grow market share faster with nuanced claims and messaging for each customer segment so your brand communicates the right marketing message to the right customers at the right time. Learn more here!



Answers to Your Product Claim Questions


What is a product claim?

A product claim is a statement made by a company or brand about the benefits, features, or performance of their product or service. It is a form of advertising used in marketing to influence consumer behavior and promote the product.

Product claims can take various forms, such as:

  • Descriptive claim: "Our laundry detergent contains all-natural ingredients."

  • Comparative claim: "Our energy drink is more effective than other brands."

  • Superlative claim: "Our sunscreen is the only product that offers complete sun protection."

  • Endorsement claim: "Our skincare line is recommended by top dermatologists."

It is essential for companies to ensure the claims they make are accurate and backed by evidence, to avoid misleading or false advertising.


How do you create a product claim?

Creating a product claim involves a strategic process to craft a statement that is compelling, informative, and accurate. Here are some steps to follow when creating a product claim:

  1. Identify the unique selling proposition of the product.

  2. Understand the target audience.

  3. Use persuasive language.

  4. Be specific and transparent.

  5. Comply with regulations.

  6. Test the product claim.

Remember that a product claim should accurately reflect the benefits of the product and provide customers with meaningful information to help them make informed decisions.


What makes a good product claim?

A good product claim should be clear, specific, and relevant to the product or service being advertised. It should also be truthful, supported by factual evidence, and align with the expectations and needs of the target audience. It should also evoke a strong emotional response and encourage customers to take action.

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