Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

In December 2001, after extensive consultation, CAP produced the Advertising Guidance on Lowest Price Claims and Promises. This guidance provides guidance on the use of lowest price claims and promises to help marketers and their agencies ensure that their marketing conforms to the CAP Code.

The guidance covers: the law and the Codes; “lowest price” claims; price promises; guarantee vs. guaranteed; and “unbeatable low prices” claims and promises.

The key points are as follows:

1.    "Lowest price" claims (or "best price" claims) must be backed up by suitable evidence to show that marketers will always beat, and not merely match, competitors’ prices (Section 4);

2.    If "lowest price" claims are based on monitoring carried out on a specific date, marketing communications should include that date. Monitoring should be carried out by the marketer as close as possible to the appearance dates of marketing communications (Section 4). Marketers in highly competitive markets where competitors change their prices swiftly and in response to a price led marketing communication should take extra care;

3.    Offering a price promise (e.g. to beat a competitors’ cheaper price if informed of that price by a consumer) does not justify a "lowest price" claim if the latter claim cannot be supported (Section 4);

4.    Any significant conditions attached to price promises should be clearly stated (Section 5);

5.    "Lowest prices guaranteed" and "lowest prices guarantee" are often confused. The former constitutes a claim that the product cannot be purchased as cheaply or cheaper elsewhere, the latter a price promise (Sections 5 & 6);

6.    Marketers offering to match, but not beat, competitors’ prices should ensure that their advertising clearly reflects that (Section 7); and

7.    Marketers should ensure that "lowest price" claims in media with long copy deadlines (e.g. magazines) are still accurate at the time that marketing communications appear. Similarly, "lowest price" claims in advertising material with a long "shelf-life" (e.g. advertisements in directories or brochures) should remain accurate for the duration of the marketing communications’ appearance (Section 4).

See also entry on ‘Guarantees & Warranties’ for more general guidance.

Qualifications should be presented prominently, and even if an ad includes a qualification it may be considered misleading if they contradict the overall impression in the ad. A complaint about an ad which stated “UK’s lowest price” was upheld because, whilst footnote text referred to particular retailers and to a particular point in time, it lacked prominence, and the ASA considered that the information was not sufficient to counteract the overall impression that the claim "the UK's lowest prices" related to all retailers and was accurate at the time the ad was seen. (Hutchison 3G UK Ltd t/a Three, 03 February 2016).

An ad for parcel delivery stated "The Cheapest Parcel Delivery in the UK". Next to this claim, text within a roundel stated “LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE”. The ASA considered that it was unclear as to whether Parcel2Go offered current cheaper prices than their competitors, offered current parity with them or offered a guarantee to change a price to beat a cheaper competitor offer ( Ltd, 16 November 2016).

More on