Function claimed that it had “over 110,000 5-star product reviews” for its hair care products, the majority of which come from its “shampoo and conditioner” category. A competitor filed an NAD challenge pointing out that the total number of 5-star reviews across all product categories was only 63,831. So how did Function get to 110,000? Normally, I turn to our team of economists at Georgetown Economic Services to sort through these tricky math questions, but I was able to figure this one out on my own.
Function normally sells its shampoo and conditioner as a set, and when consumers are invited to write reviews, and select a category, the only relevant category available is “shampoo and conditioner.” In other words, consumers can’t pick one or the other. Thus, when consumers left a review in the “shampoo and conditioner” category, Function counted the single review as a review for two products. Talk to your own economists, if you want to double-check the math, but the total exceeds 110,000.
Function argued that because it referred to the number of “product reviews,” rather than the number of “reviews,” the claim was supported. NAD disagreed, noting that although Function’s claim may be literally true, “consumers do not parse the language of advertising claims and can reasonably conclude that the total number of product reviews is the same as the total number of reviews submitted.” Thus, Function could not support one reasonable interpretation of the claim.
As reviews play a greater role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, companies are employing new strategies to solicit reviews and make claims based on those reviews. At the same time, many of those companies are also carefully watching what their competitors are doing and bringing challenges when they think those competitors go too far. We expect to see these challenges continue.