Savage X Fenty, Rihanna’s lingerie brand, is facing accusations of employing deceptive marketing practices to sell their products.
According to a press release from TruthInAdvertising.org, a non-profit dedicated to protecting consumers from false or deceptive marketing and advertising, Savage X Fenty “is using a deceptive negative-option offer, which ensnares consumers into unwanted monthly charges.”
What Does That Even Mean?
A negative option offer is a system in which you have to directly contact a business to cancel a continuing order and prevent being charged. You may have encountered this kind of marketing before. Once you order a product, you have to go out of your way to cancel the subscription. Otherwise, they charge your card.
There is nothing inherently wrong with negative option offers. That is, as the company makes the terms of the arrangement clear to the customer. This is allegedly not the case with Rihanna’s brand.
The accusations against the brand are rather numerous and quite complex. Truth In Advertising accused Savage X Fenty of:
- “Deceptively promoting discounts and product prices that are only available to Xtra VIP members who are bound to the terms of the membership;
- Enrolling consumers into a negative-option offer without disclosing all the material terms and conditions of the offer;
- Falsely telling consumers that store credits can be used “whenever they want”; and
- Employing dissuasion and diversion tactics when consumers try to cancel their Savage X Fenty membership.”
The gist of these accusations is that the brand is deceptively advertising to their customers. They’re attempting to keep them ensnared in memberships without fully disclosing terms.
They are also apparently using social media influencer ads in which the influencers aren’t disclosing their relationship with the company in the ad. This is a big social media marketing no-no.
A company called TechStyle Inc (formerly known as JustFab) co-owns Savage X Fenty. The e-commerce and fashion company also co-owns Kate Hudson’s Fabletics brand. Fabletics faced similar accusations of deceptive marketing practices in the past.
Consumer Protection From Deceptive Marketing
These accusations against such a recognizable brand raise questions about how consumers can protect themselves in the age of social media marketing.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted the FTC Act which allows the FTC to act in the interest of all consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair acts or practices.
Looking at Section 5 of the Act, the FTC looks to whether the “representation, omission, or practice” is misleading to consumers and whether it affects consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service.
Even when buying from brands faced by trusted celebrities or recognizable names, consumers have to check the fine print carefully to make sure they’re not getting tricked or unnecessarily charged in any way. Every time an influencer posts something, their followers have to be savvy enough to take it with a grain of salt. Otherwise, they risk being manipulated into buying a product through deceptive means.
It’s a wild west out there when it comes to advertising and marketing. It’s a constant effort to be aware of what’s going on with your purchases. It can be difficult to avoid angrily emailing customer service trying to get back that $19.99 subscription payment you didn’t know you asked for.
Despite potentially deceptive marketing, Savage X Fenty has done wonders bringing about positive change to the lingerie business. The brand is inclusive and body-positive. Savage X Fenty also may be part of the reason behind the cancellation of 2019’s Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
How These Accusations Will Impact The Brand
If Fabletics is any indication, the controversy won’t affect the brand’s momentum much. Rihanna also has a cult-like following and incredibly dedicated fans that will continue to buy from her regardless of any marketing shenanigans. Her contributions to a more positive lingerie and beauty industry will likely also help her brand endure.