What Are Claims?


This lecture by Teresa Callaghan intended to give the attendees an idea of what is needed to meet the requirements in terms of claims legislation.

A claim is a statement that projects the positive aspects that can be achieved through the use of a product. EU legislation clearly states that claims cannot be a lie. They must be understandable to average consumers, be honest and protect the people using the products.

Claims criteria are based around what the product says it does and why it does it.

Claims do have an impact on average consumer choices. People tend to choose the products they buy based on the value for money, the trust / familiarity they have with the products, how easy they are to use, their belief in evidence and endorsements.

Claims cannot be considered legal unless they are truthful. Making false, non-compliant claims can seriously damage your credibility, not only inside the industry, but also amongst consumers and the general public. The bigger the company, the bigger this risk is, with small companies often believing the law does not apply to them, thinking they are “under the radar”.

Telling the truth at all times, avoiding exaggeration and non-precise claims are basic principles to follow in order to avoid the cost of non-compliance.

The type of claims can vary with trends, as different types of claims apply to different products.

Cosmetic devices are a growing market and they are subject to specific legislation that has to be taken into consideration when making the claims. Also, the development of new systems opens technical possibilities to new claims. Within this category of products, it is crucial to know the exact functionality of the device and translate the claim into a scientific objective statement, validated with the legal department.

The use of oral cosmetic supplements – inside-out beauty – is another growing trend. In this case, in addition to the general requirements, claims must also comply with the EU food regulation. It is not easy to tell if these are health or beauty claims. Age, gender, distribution, race, socioeconomic status, geographic location, family history, health status are only a few of the many criteria that must be considered when making these kind of claims. The acceptance of these claims depends on national practices and interpretations, and brands should be careful with the wording they use.

When it comes to male grooming, keeping the claims simple and masculine and remembering that male and female skin are different are important basic principles to follow. With men having higher expectations than women, products really need to be results driven. Using the right bloke in the right study is key to success.

Gathering evidence: Substantiation testing is required when the claims refer to the effectiveness of a product, a benefit or an improvement, for example, in the skin´s appearance. Keep in mind the “Why & What Rules”:

What the product says it does, what the product really does and why the product does what it does.

When analysing the obtained data, it is important to stick to the following principles:

  • Do not over interpret
  • Do not extrapolate
  • Results lacking statistical significance should not be used
  • Do not pick and choose

When making the claims, avoid statements such as “maximum effect”, “better for dry skin”, “makes your skin feel less sensitive”, as well as words ended in “-ier”.

Language must be kept simple and claims should be supported with educational and factual advice, as “do´s and don´ts”.

The ABC of claim developing:

Believe sceptically, Check your facts and don´t forget the wider picture.

When assessing costs vs time vs quality, remember that non-compliance will cost more than making the studies to support the claims.

Ensuring an effective communication is another key aspect of claims. With 28 EU countries and many different departments within a company – R&D, marketing, sales… – trying to pass on a message to different people – distributors, POS teams, consumers, bloggers and journalists… – it is easy to get “lost in translation”. Keep in mind that an effective communication involves an active listening to the consumer and it reflects the accountability of both, the consumer and the marketer. It utilises feedback, is clear and achieves its goal.

Marketing and R&D have to understand each other’s values to come out with compliant claims. Communication creates an image about the products and the company and a good communication is a valuable tool to build positive and long lasting relationships with consumers.