Two leaflets, a website and two national press ads for Lidl:
a. The first leaflet, seen on 23 April 2020, featured a number of recommended retail price (RRP) claims including a “Nescafe Dolce Gusto Infinissima” with a price of £34.99 and an RRP of £99.99, and a “Kenwood Electric Juicer” with a price of £14.99 and an RRP of £32.99.
b. The second leaflet, seen on 3 May 2020, featured a “SONY DAB+ Radio” with a price of £49.99 and an RRP of £60.00, and “Skullcandy Uproar Wireless On-Ear Headphones” with a price of £19.99 and an RRP of £44.99.
c. The website, seen on 23 April and 3 May 2020, featured a page titled “LIDL Specialbuys Leaflet” that displayed the same claims as ads (a) and (b).
d. The first national press ad, seen on 25 April 2020, featured a “Salter Toastie Maker” with a price of £14.99 and an RRP of £49.99, and a “Nescafe Dolce Gusto Infinissima” with a price of £34.99 and an RRP of £99.99.
e. The second national press ad, seen on 7 May 2020, featured a “Black and Decker Cordless 18v 25cm Strimmer” with a price of £69.99 and an RRP of £99.99, and a “Black and Decker Cordless 45cm Hedge Trimmer” with a price of £69.99 and an RRP of £99.99.
IssueAldi Stores Ltd, who believed that the quoted RRPs differed significantly from the prices at which the items in ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) were generally sold, challenged whether the RRP claims were misleading.
Lidl Great Britain Ltd explained that their approach to RRPs was based on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices.
They said that all of the RRPs featured in the ads were based on information provided by manufacturers. They provided screenshots from manufacturers’ and competitors’ websites showing RRPs around those displayed for the products in ads (a)-(e) from the time the ads were published, as well as some evidence from September 2020 that showed selected products had continued to be sold at the same RRPs by third parties after they had stopped stocking the relevant products.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the RRP claims in the ads to be the price recommended by the manufacturer and at which retailers generally sold the goods across the market. Lidl provided screenshots from a number of different websites to substantiate the RRP claims in the ads. In the case of the electric juicer, we noted that Lidl had provided the RRP set by the manufacturer on their website because that model of juicer was no longer on the market. We considered that where a product was no longer on the market, it would not be possible to demonstrate the price at which it was generally sold.
Additionally, Lidl had provided manufacturers’ RRP for the toastie maker, the Skullcandy headphones, the Nescafe coffee maker and the DAB+ radio. However, RRPs set by the manufacturer did not constitute evidence that they were the prices at which those products were generally sold. In some instances Lidl provided only one or two other examples of a product being sold at the price claimed in their ads. For the Black and Decker Cordless 18v 25cm Strimmer, they provided a sole example of another major retailer selling the item. They provided evidence from two other major retailers for the SONY DAB+ Radio and the juicer, with one of the retailers in both instances being the manufacturer.
For the toastie maker, they provided one other online retailer, aside from the manufacturer, selling the item. We considered that given the number of retailers selling those products across the market, the examples provided were insufficient to demonstrate that the products were generally sold at the RRPs claimed in the ads. For those reasons, we concluded that the RRP and savings claims in ads (a)-(e) had not been substantiated and were misleading.
Ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) 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), 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), and 3.40 3.40 Price comparisons must not mislead by falsely claiming a price advantage. Comparisons with a recommended retail prices (RRPs) are likely to mislead if the RRP differs significantly from the price at which the product or service is generally sold. (Price comparisons).
The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Lidl Great Britain Ltd to ensure that that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold. We also told them to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate their savings claims.