There are many cases of overseen false advertising in huge corporations which even if people discover it is false advertising, there isn’t much to do as some of these monopolies which have created this sort of advertising have simply become too powerful.
In this case, I want to discuss our everyday soap (no matter in what form this may come) which we have used for many years and we crucially hang onto with the current pandemic. Most companies that sell soap products advertise them as 99% efficient or in better words, it kills 99% of bacteria.
Have you ever wonder why is that? Or better yet, if this is actually true?
Why not 100%?
There are some confectionary products of such type used in the medical industry that assure killing 100% of the bacteria, however, such products come with a big price tag and due to this, they are only used in more severe cases such as before surgery.
The truth of that 1% is so that these companies can protect themselves. Rather than stating that your product can kill 100% of bacteria and having someone infected by bacteria even if they have used the product which claims to kill 100%, they state that it only kills 99%. So if in the rare case someone does end up being infected, even if they have used the product, the company which produced the product cannot be sued.
Such schemes are indirectly used by many companies in different industries through marketing to make sure that even if the product can’t always offer the promised efficiency, they cannot get into trouble (at least not that easily).
But does it really kill 99% of bacteria?
The part that I am referring to as false advertising is that the product that you purchase may not even kill 99% of bacteria. In a study conducted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health tested some common soaps both in solid and liquid form to see if they do kill 99% of bacteria as advertised.
The results showed that on average, none of the common soaps tested (which could be found around the world, not specifying any brands) killed 99% of bacteria. Most of them actually turned out to kill 91% of bacteria! In some instances with cheaper brands, the percentage came at almost 80%.
Every product is marketed with the intent of attracting customers with its unique features, specifications, or aesthetics. But when the product does not offer the “promised” specifications it is considered false advertising and in this case, it can be even considered as fraud. The reason I mention fraud is that customers are dependent on this product for their own well being. It isn’t like purchasing a new pair of shoes that may or may not please you like that won’t really affect you that much. But with a product that is this crucial, especially in dire times like this, something must be done.
When companies advertise their products they use a certain piece of information about the product to make it stand out, in this case, “killing 99% of bacteria”. In many cases that piece of information alone is what persuades the customer into purchasing the product (besides the need for the product). Advertising with such information on the label creates a bond between the potential customer and the company that sells the product because that “killing 99% of bacteria” is an indirect promise made by the company to the customer.
If you were to sue a certain soap producer for the fact that their product does not kill 99% of bacteria their team of lawyers will come back to you and say that maybe it’s not the product, but the customer who does not know how to properly wash their hands (use the product). At which point the trial would be over and the only thing that the company would be advised to do is place instructions on how to properly use the product on the packaging of the product.