Unless you want to be saddled with a huge FTC fine, be careful using lines like “100% Natural” or “All Natural” on packaging and in marketing materials.
Five Companies Censured For Mislabeling Natural Products
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission censured a handful of companies for making false and unsubstantiated claims. The targeted parties used the terms “100% Natural” or “All Natural” even though the products contained synthetic preservatives like dimethicone or phenoxyethanol.
The targeted parties used the terms “100% Natural” or “All Natural” even though the products contained synthetic preservatives like dimethicone or phenoxyethanol.
“All Natural” Marketing Rules
Believe it or not, there isn’t a legal definition for “natural.”
Before 62% of us were self-diagnosed Celiacs and gourmet supermarkets were a mere gleam in Robin Leach’s monocle, the rules surrounding “all natural” were as loose as Las Vegas.
Forget the Age of Aquarius, we’re living in the Age of All Natural — and regulators are particular about how marketers deploy the phrase.
Here’s the “all natural” bar:
Avoid phrases like “100% Natural” or “All Natural” unless you’re certain that every single ingredient in the product comes from Mother Nature. Furthermore, don’t take a manufacturer’s word for it; foreign factories are beholden to different regulatory standards and aren’t always upfront about the secret sauce.
Jessica Rich, the FTC’s director of Bureau of Consumer Protection cautioned: “‘All natural’ or ‘100% natural’ means just that—no artificial ingredients or chemicals. Companies should take a lesson from these cases.”
Five Other Marketing Rules To Know & Follow
- Posting negative, false reviews on competitors’ product listings could easily be deemed trade libel or defamation. In worst case scenarios, you could be successfully sued. More than that, using fake, disparaging reviews is lying — a clear violation of the FTC’s “unfair and deceptive” marketing rules.
- Officials have censured brands and marketers over fake news sites — especially ones that used unauthorized imagery of professional anchors and newsreaders.
- Use #Ad, #Sponsored or #Paid hashtags on all social media promotional campaigns. The standard is often ignored, without punishment. But the FTC recently fired a warning shot; Retailer Lord & Taylor took the bullet.
- Clearly label native advertising. Vague headers (like the popular “Promoted Stories”) don’t cut it anymore.
- Don’t buy fake reviews. Reviews are an incredibly important part of the online marketing magic sauce, but do yourself a favor: don’t buy fake reviews! You could get sued. Amazon does NOT mess around when it comes to phony feedback and has not only filed civil claims against fake review companies, but has also sued individual reviewers!
Marketing Compliance Help, Please
Concerned you’re not operating on the safe side of the marketing legal fence?
To find out, set up a marketing audit. It’s a lot less painful than a tax audit — A LOT. And instead of looking for ways to take money from you, a marketing auditor may find ways to put money back in your pocket.
Lorenzetti, L. (2016, April 12). FTC Goes After 5 ‘Natural’ Companies for False Claims. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://fortune.com/2016/04/13/ftc-natural-personal-care-false/