Back in my uni days, I remembered walking past Superdrug (one of UK’s versions of Priceline if you will) and seeing advertisements with random products and prices. The focus of the advertisements was that the prices of those random beauty products were cheaper than Boots. They showed the prices advertised by Boots, and compared with their prices of the same products. Interestingly, Boots was just a few doors away from that store!
Now when I first saw such an advertisement, I was shocked. I never knew it was okay to openly advertise price comparisons with another well-known store. It wasn’t a practice in Malaysia, which is why such advertisements still make me do a double-look to this day.
On to another “battle” which is similar; it’s still done in the open and this time, it’s not store vs. store, but brand vs. brand.
I’ve noticed a number of occurences lately, when a brand will advertise the shortcomings of another brand, just to highlight that their similar product is a much better-performing one. It may not be on billboards or posters, but I’ve seen this in company newsletters (sent to customers or potential customers who subscribe to them) and media releases. In this examples, I don’t mean a comparison on price differences, but the make-up of the products themselves.
We know that brands do talk about other brands behind their backs. It’s called sussing out the competition. Everyone wants their products to sell better than their competitor’s. But the form of slagging I’ve seen is not over drinks. It’s not carried out in secret behind closed doors. It’s out there, in the open, for consumers to see.
On a few occasions, I’ve seen newsletters scoffing at the claims of another brand’s product in order to highlight that their product is better. Press releases are sent to the media (including bloggers) comparing one brand’s product to a competitor’s, claiming that the competitor’s product is inferior to their own, noting their shortcomings in terms of ingredients, efficacy and so on.
This practice disturbs me greatly. No matter how the product performs, it’s not up to the brand to decide for the consumers on that their product is better than their competitor’s. Leave that to the consumers to decide. Allow them to try the products out and judge for themselves. Don’t make up their minds for them.
Let’s take one of Aldi’s catalogues as an example (see image above). Note the comparison Aldi made between Nivea Visage’s Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle night cream and Lacura’s Q10 Plus Renew Night Cream. They didn’t mention that their Lacura product was better than Nivea’s, that Nivea’s is lacking in ingredients (or have any bad ones). They did a price comparison, implying that their product is just as good as Nivea’s, but at a lower price. As for which moisturiser performs better, they left it to the consumers to decide.
I believe that the playground is big enough for everyone. Brands do not have to stoop low as to mock another brand if they are confident enough in their products. It’s arguably acceptable if they mention that their product is superior to a “well known brand”. I don’t think it is so when said brand’s product is openly put under the microscope to compare superiority. This form of advertising is unprofessional and patronising to consumers. Again, let us decide what’s better for us. Let us know why your product is good (highlight your ingredients and research). Don’t tell us your product is good by saying your competitor’s product is bad.
What do you think of such conduct of brands that mock other brands’ products to promote their own similar ones? Do you think it’s an acceptable form of advertising?