The skin and body treatment industry is very competitive. Packaging and labeling are critical aspects for product marketing, so it is not surprising that manufacturers will use terms such as “natural” or “pure” to enhance the value of a soap or lotion. The notion of unadulterated creams, soaps and lotions are very attractive since more consumers are concerned that “synthetic” products will their harm skin over a period of extended use.
So what happens when a product advertised as “natural” is anything but?
The manufacturer could be held liable for falsely advertising its products. Such was the case with Neutrogena. The manufacturer, known for its lotions and cleansing creams was embroiled in a class action based on its “Neutrogena Naturals” line of products. A group of consumers brought suit claiming that the products, including Neutrogena’s facial cleanser, face and body bar and night creams were mislabeled because they were not completely natural. While they contained some natural components, they were also comprised of synthetic materials.
Manufacturers have a legal duty to avoid using language or images that could mislead a reasonable person about the true nature of its product or its capabilities. We have previously posted on how automakers used EPA estimates to mislead consumers about the true nature of fuel efficiency.
In the meantime, Neutrogena and the class have reached a $1.3 million settlement.
We find this case important because commercial buzz words are more likely to influence falsely advertising than the products themselves, and manufacturers would not be held accountable without the specter of a class action lawsuit.
Source: TopClassActions.com, Neutrogena Naturals class action settlement, March 11, 2013