A catalogue listing for Avon Senses X-treme 720 ml hair and body wash, seen in July 2016, stated “Normally £4…£3 save £1”.
The complainant challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Avon Cosmetics Ltd explained that their brochures were not distributed directly to customers. A customer would receive a brochure from their Avon representative, and could then place an order with the representative, who would order the products from Avon. They said that the Senses shower gels had been sold for the higher price of £4 (if bought individually) in brochure 9. This immediately preceded the offer in brochure 11 that was seen by the complainant, as the product had not been advertised in brochure 10. They also said that they were aware that some customers had bought the products at the full price, despite the “2 for £5” offer available to them. They provided figures showing the number of units that had been bought at each price. Avon brochures were generally live for three weeks, but representatives could also back order from a brochure for an additional three weeks. They said that the higher price had been available for each representative to show their customers for six weeks, and they therefore did not believe that the ad was misleading.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to understand that £4 was the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared, and would expect the savings claim to represent a genuine saving against that price.
We noted that Senses X-treme 720 ml hair and body wash had been offered at £4 in Avon brochure 9, if bought individually, and that 526 units had been purchased at that price. Although this was a small proportion of the total units ordered from that brochure, we considered that it showed that the product had been sold at the previous price. However, the advertiser also needed to demonstrate that this was the usual selling price.
We noted that representatives had been able to show their customers and order from brochure 9 for a period of six weeks up to the publication of brochure 11. However, we noted that the same product had not been advertised in brochure 8, and had been sold at £2.40 and £3 respectively in the two brochures preceding that. This indicated that it had been available for sale for less than £4 for nine weeks prior to the six-week period where it was sold for £4. For that reason, we considered that the higher selling price of £4 was not the usual selling price and the ad over-stated the savings consumers were likely to make.
We therefore concluded that the savings claim had not been substantiated, and that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Avon Cosmetics Ltd to ensure that they did not refer to “normal” prices, and savings claims based on them, unless they held sufficient evidence to show that these were the prices at which products were usually sold.