Updated: Jan 18, 2020
Many people like to go shopping for pleasure, others for necessity but what we have in common is that we don’t like to be lied to. As consumers, we are bombarded every day with advertisements on billboards, bus shelters, on the radio, on TV and online. We may or may not choose to invest in the product or service, but we often take at face value what we are being told. However, there is ample opportunity for unscrupulous brands to use false advertising in order to get our precious cash. In this post, we will discuss six examples of false or misleading advertising that you should watch out for.
To find out more just keep reading.
1. High Price Isn’t High Value: the false equivalency
As consumers, we are always searching for the best quality product at the best price point. However, we often get swayed by products whose price is above average and we do this because “the level of an object’s price embeds and conveys useful information about its quality (or lack thereof) or the quality of the store from which it is purchased” (Dholakia, 2018). Products from Myers, for example, may be perceived by some consumers as being of a higher quality than those from Big W due to the prestige reputation of the former. It stands to reason then that some brands “tend to set prices at a high level to signal that they are selling high-quality items.” (Dholakia, 2018). Even if their products are in fact manufactured with the same ingredients and/or materials.
To read more on this subject:
Dholakia, U. 2018, ‘When High Prices Attract Consumers and Low Prices Repel Them’, Psychology Today, viewed 12 March 2019,https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201802/when-high-prices-attract-consumers-and-low-prices-repel-them
2. Something Is A Little Off, a bad clone story
Certain brands due to their logo, imagery or celebrity ownership immediately become sold out the minute they are released. They are covetable items that buyers are prepared to spend big on. Seeing the success and financial gain that can be obtained by selling such items some unscrupulous seller’s resort to counterfeiting these items. These aren’t items that are in a similar vein or aesthetic but clones of the original that at times almost indistinguishable. The difference, of course, is that these clones are usually manufactured in unsanitary conditions, made with ingredients that are adulterated, made with ingredients that are carcinogenic and/or made with ingredients that can cause long-term allergic reactions.
For more on this:
Loveland, M. 2018, ‘Counterfeit Makeup is Really, Really Scary’, Ranker, viewed 12 March 2019, https://www.ranker.com/list/counterfeit-makeup-facts/mariel-loveland
3. Wait That’s Not Us: when things aren’t what they seem
There are brands who make innovative or high-quality products that quickly become holy grail items to consumers. They will often be endorsed by influencers on Instagram or feature on Facebook. This might involve using the product on camera and seeing the influencers live reaction to the product in question. Less discerning brands may steal of copy entire videos or clips of these demonstrations and imply that the products being demonstrated are theirs thereby a false impression is given of buying the original brands products. These products are often not fit for use and made with sub-par materials and/or ingredients.
For a video on this subject:
Raw Beauty Kristy’s video “False Advertising | FB & IG Makeup Scams to Look Out For” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7UyXuWI4eY
4. Miracle Cure: bogus claims and the placebo effect
Sometimes there are trends for particular ingredients and lots of brands bandwagon on the trend. Whether it’s coconut oil, kale, activated charcoal, green tea, essential oils, etc. we’ve all seen certain ingredients become popular and start appearing in a multitude of products. The issue starts when brands manufacture products that either don’t actually any of that ingredient in it, have that ingredient in it but in ridiculously small doses or replace these ingredients with cheaper alternatives. An example of this is lavandin (Lavandula Intermedia) being replaced for the more expensive Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) oil. Lavandin does not have the same properties as Lavender. You are therefore buying a product based on benefits you will never receive.
5. Only $599!: when you need $500 more to make 'it' work We may all have fallen in this trap at one time or another. We may find a flyer in our letterbox featuring great deals for flights to London, New York or Singapore and decide that the travel agent must be the best one to go with. We may decide to make the booking in person and that’s when we realise that the prices quoted don’t include non-negotiable additional charges (e.g. baggage fees, seat selection fees, in-flight meal and drink, in-flight entertainment, wheelchair requests, credit and debit charges, travel and cancellation insurance, booking fees, etc). Those cheap flights might not be as cheap as you think.
6. Speculating On Potential: when dreams aren't reality Anyone who at some point has considered buying a home has been confronted with advertising of apartments in a new building or a home in a new estate that is being sold “on spec”. What does “on spec” mean? It means that a product is sold before it is finally completed. The product is often promoted, and mock-ups will be used to sell the product. The buyer is actually buying a potential product with no guarantee that the product will ever see the light of day. On a larger scale, this might be an apartment bought based on a floor plan or on a smaller scale an eyeshadow palette bought based on a Photoshopped mock-up. The product may never eventuate and the customer will lose all their investment. T
To read or watch about some examples of this:
an, S-L. 2019, ‘Lainson Holdings' half-built apartment project goes under administration’, viewed 12 March 2019, https://www.afr.com/real-estate/lainson-holdings-halfbuilt-apartment-project-goes-under-administration-20181221-h19dso
Tea Spill, 2018, ‘Biggest Beauty Scam of 2017/2018 !? Lisa Frank x Glamour Doll Cosmetics’, viewed 12 March 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoyfOhJI1B4
So, we’ve seen six examples of false, misleading or deceptive advertising in this post and most revolve around replacing higher quality ingredients or materials with lower quality ingredients or materials. The deception is often carried out by implying that the end product is of a higher quality and therefore value than it actually is. Although in some cases the only loss is one of losing face for having been duped the loss can also be quite significant (i.e. carcinogenic ingredients, lost financial investments, etc). It bears keeping in mind that not everyone has your values or morals so you should always do your research. If you liked this article and don’t want to miss out on future articles then click here to subscribe.