An Advertising Claim Substantiation Survey Gone Wrong
Survey results indicating that Schmidt’s deodorant helps consumers feel dry do not substantiate an advertising claim that the deodorant absorbs wetness. That is the opinion of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus
regarding advertising claims made by Schmidt’s Deodorant Company. (For a press release about the decision, click here.)
Schmidt’s Deodorant Company made advertising claims indicating that its deodorants absorb and provide protection against moisture and wetness. Tom’s of Maine, Inc. challenged Schmidt’s claims before the National Advertising Division (NAD). As part of its defense, Schmidt’s relied on the results of a consumer survey.
MMR was not involved in this matter. However, according to the press release about the NARB decision, the Schmidt’s survey consisted of a product test in which 209 consumers used Schmidt’s deodorant for 3 days and then completed an online survey about the deodorant. According to Schmidt’s, the results of the survey indicated that Schmidt’s deodorants helped consumers feel dry.
However, NAD found, and NARB agreed, that the results of a survey measuring consumers’ feelings of dryness do not support an advertising claim regarding the efficacy of a deodorant’s moisture absorption.
When To – and Not To – Conduct an Advertising Claim Substantiation Survey
This example illustrates an important characteristic of advertising claim substantiation surveys. Surveys can measure consumer behaviors, attitudes, preferences, and other subjective opinions. However, consumers may not be able to provide objective evaluations of product performance – especially for product benefits that consumers cannot detect.
In the example, Schmidt’s conducted a survey asking consumers to use its deodorant and evaluate whether it helped them feel dry. That calls for consumers to evaluate whether they feel dry after using Schmidt’s deodorant. Consumers are able to make such a determination based on their own sensory perception of dryness.
However, there are some product benefits that a consumer may not be able to detect. In this example, although consumers can evaluate whether they feel dry, the NAD and NARB decided that consumers cannot provide an objective evaluation of how well a product absorbs moisture. Schmidt’s provided results of independent laboratory testing, which measured the moisture absorption rate of Schmidt’s deodorants. While such lab testing may be able to provide an objective measurement of absorption, the NAD and NARB decided that consumers cannot evaluate this objective product performance metric.
Advertising Claim Substantiation Surveys Can Provide Support for Subjective Consumer Evaluations
Advertising claim substantiation surveys can provide support for claims about subjective consumer attitudes or other product characteristics that consumers can evaluate. For example, the NAD or NARB might have been more receptive to a survey supporting a claim that Schmidt’s deodorant helps consumers feel dry, or that a certain percentage of consumers who tried Schmidt’s deodorant reported feeling dry.
Advertising claims about objective product performance benefits that cannot be evaluated by consumers should not rely on consumer surveys. The claim in this example was an objective claim about the absorption performance of Schmidt’s deodorant. Laboratory testing might be able to provide substantiation for such a claim, but NAD and NARB decided that the consumer survey was not sufficient to substantiate such an objective product efficacy claim.
Learn More About Advertising Claim Substantiation Surveys
To learn more about advertising claim substantiation surveys, contact the survey experts at MMR Strategy Group.
Dr. Justin Anderson
MMR Strategy Group