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Brands Must Market Health & Safety Claims Truthfully
“Two Lysol products have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The products are Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, both approved last week for use on hard, nonporous surfaces,” reported Healthline on July 6.
Lysol has been a popular brand throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers binge-shopped cleaning products, particularly at the beginning of quarantines. News of the newly approved products will likely cause another spike in sales for Lysol, a brand that has made its health claims official. For brands yet to receive EPA approval, it’s important to tread carefully when making any health or safety claims.
Brands Must Market Health And Safety Claims Truthfully
Savvy shoppers, especially in the internet age when ads are everywhere, often ask themselves if something is too good to be true. When it comes to the safety of cleaning and wellness products, brands have to be very careful to follow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines when branding and marketing. The FTC plainly states, “companies must support their advertising claims with solid proof.” For example, several years ago the FDA ruled that soaps containing triclosan and triclocarban could not be marketed as antibacterial, because they couldn’t prove that they were safe or more effective than soap and water.
Lysol took the proper steps to get government approval and to be clear about how to use the newly EPA-approved cleaners, addressing rumors about ingesting household cleaners (don’t) and giving very specific guidelines on how products should be used to be effective. The language used in Lysol branding is also reflective of the proven claims, like killing 99% of viruses, with the small print explaining which types of germs and pathogens are killed by the product.
Health And Wellness Products Must Tread Carefully With Definitive Marketing Language
Health and wellness brands, which can be inclusive of everything from luxury spas to herbal remedies, represent a massive industry. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) products are very successful in the wellness industry, particularly with powerful influencers on social media promoting the products. But, it’s important that any brand that partners with health and wellness influencers is mindful of any unproven, yet seemingly definitive health claims that are being made, which could be either harmful to consumers or trigger misrepresentation investigations from the FDA or FTC. In the early days of the coronavirus, multiple brands espousing healing or curative effects were warned, by the FDA and FTC, to cease all claims.
Until proof is obtained and approval is received, brands are better off focusing on language that captures the general benefits of wellness versus specific claims that can’t be proven. Consumers during the pandemic may be particularly anxious about the latest health news and treatment, so brands should be helpful, but wary of offering any direct guidance that could conflict with that of healthcare professionals.
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