There is only one person who can make a claim about your health, and that is you.
We live in a world where linking claims to virtually all products and services has been elevated to an art form. For how long have we been hearing that the ‘renewed’ detergent really does wash better now? Every year a newer version makes the old product fade in effectiveness. This applies to every product that is touted by marketers, whether or not the claim is supported by “scientific’”data.
When it comes to nutritional products, oversight and regulation is pretty tight. For example ,‘Good for the heart and blood vessels’ must be demonstrably substantiated. This is of course a good thing; you cannot just say anything as a food manufacturer. With medicines and health claims, it is even stricter, and each claim must be substantiated by sound scientific research.
In fact, there are four things that are important around a product:
- Is it safe?
- What should you use a product for; an indication.
- How should I take is; suggested use.
- The claim of efficacy.
The first three are undoubtedly important and useful. The efficacy claim is where the shoe pinches.
The claim dogma
To truly understand the value of a claim, you must be able to understand the underlying evidence. For most people, this is not doable. For example, a drug may have a claim that it is effective if it has been shown to work better than a placebo. A placebo is a drug that contains no active ingredients and is given to half of the patients as a control. So it actually works better than “nothing” then. But that could be 10% or 90%.
If you read that a drug works for back pain, it may be that this was the case for only 10% of the patients treated. Whereas you might think this would be true for all patients. This nuance is often hard to find and you have to dive into the scientific publications or a medical professional has to point it out to you. The distinction is certainly not unimportant but in the world of marketing it is completely lost. With years of marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry, among others, some team members speak from experience. The commercial interest does not benefit from nuance, on the contrary, it is magnified as far as legally permissible. That this does not always go well is shown by the billions of claims that companies receive annually from regulatory bodies.
And so, a (legal) game of cat and mouse arises between commercial parties and regulators. Given the enormous sums that can potentially be earned, you can ask yourself who has the upper hand…
But what can you, as a consumer, rely on if you have to take the value of claims with a grain of salt? How can you judge whether the new detergent is really better than your old one? How do you know if a pill really helps you get rid of your backache?
Perhaps it is time for a whole new way of marketing. A way that does justice to the ability of you as a consumer to determine whether you find something good, useful, tasty or beneficial for your health. Of course you do, but we all know how you are consciously and unconsciously influenced by advertising, by the opinion of others, by authority and by phrases like ‘scientifically proven’.
A nice example that examines the impact of commercial expression is the well-known blind taste test. In such a case you let your pure taste determine what you think of a product, without being influenced by the commercial claims that are given to a product. We recently tested this with bitterballen. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian bitterballs of a well-known brand. The group of 8 people were not only convinced that they could tell exactly what the vegetarian bitterballs were, but also that the meat bitterballs were tastier. It was a double blind test, so even the distributor did not know which was which. The outcome surprised everyone. Without exception, everyone labeled the vegetarian bitterballs as the meat bitterballs and found them much tastier. We were really surprised. Of course this is not proof, but it is an interesting example of personal opinion, independent of external influence. And please note, we are not saying anything about better or healthier, which certainly does not have to mean tastier – an implicit conclusion that the human brain is quick to draw.
Back to the question of what can you trust?
The answer is actually as simple as it is logical: try it yourself and form your own opinion. It is actually quite arrogant for a supplier to decide for you that something is tasty, useful, convenient, useful or good for your health. If “everyone” thinks a certain product is great, and you are not happy with it at all, it is therefore a worthless product for you. No matter how much and how loud everyone shouts and how many positive reviews a product has. For you, only your experience counts and your opinion, period. That’s marketing in 2022.
How cool would it be if we completely stopped making claims in marketing and let the consumer determine the value? Then your opinion would not be determined by clever advertising, shrewd marketing tricks, influencers with a smooth talk or whatever. But solely by your own opinion and experience.
That’s how we think at Bengs. We regularly talk to each other about what we can, should, or should not say about our products. At first we saw it as a handicap that we are not allowed to put health claims on our products. But the more we thought about it and realized that we really take our customers seriously, the more we realized that claims are old-fashioned and outdated. So we make no claims.
We do offer suggestions as to what product might be useful in a particular situation. We do continue with research and share the conclusions of our studies to help you make an informed choice. We do offer thoughts on the time it might take to reap benefit and know that everyone is unique. When it comes to your body and the effect our product might have on you and your life, we think you are the best judge. We give our customers the possibility to discover for themselves what our products can do for them. Complete freedom to choose. If someone buys a product and does not experience a benefit, we give the purchase price back, without conditions. Your opinion is 100% decisive because your opinion is your truth and we fully respect it.
Curiosity is really all that is needed. Curiosity about your experience. After all, you are the only one who can claim your health. We wish you a beautiful journey of discovery!