ASA goes after online beauty retailer for false marketing claims

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Retailing

The UK Advertising Standards Agency has clamped down on an online beauty retailer after questioning whether it's online campaign that it is the “UK's favourite online beauty store" could be substantiated.

The advertisement in question for 'www.feelunique.com' includes a video featuring various products and beauty brands, accompanied by text that states "choose from a diverse selection of over 17,500 products from the UK's favourite online beauty store​.”

It's competitor Beautybay.com, is said to have been amongst those challenging the authenticity of the claim.

Response

According to the Agency, on being notified about the complaint, the online retailer submitted data relating to website visits for the period of March to August this year, along with a report from a market research organisation.

They said these documents demonstrated that their website was the most popular, and that they had the highest sales figure for the last financial year, when compared with their competitors​,” the ASA website states.

The company also informed the Agency that the claim was in comparison with other UK online-only beauty retailers and did not include multichannel retailers, and that this was made clear in its’ advertisement.

Assessment

Although the ASA acknowledged that the data demonstrated that feelunique.com had received more visits for most months between March and August 2012 when compared with some other online beauty retailers, it considered that claims that related to the popularity of the website needed to be supported by data that related to unique visitors, rather than visits.

In the context of the ad which stated ‘Choose from a diverse selection of over 17,500 products’, readers would understand the claim ‘the UK's favourite online beauty store’ to mean that feelunique.com sold more products than any other online UK beauty store.”

In regards to the market research report, the Agency says it did demonstrate that for 2010 and 2011 feelunique.com had the highest sales figure when compared with beauty retailers that traded exclusively online, but considered that readers would understand the comparison to be with all UK beauty stores available online, including those who also traded via other channels.

"Because we had not received evidence that demonstrated that was the case, we considered that the claim had not been substantiated and concluded that it was misleading."

ASA: claims upheld

The ad is said to have breached the ASA's CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.33 and 3.35 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), and must not appear again in its current form.

"We told feelunique.com not to make the claim 'UK's favourite online beauty store' unless it could be substantiated with comparative sales data that related to all beauty stores that traded online."

 

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