Language can be tricky: advertisers say one thing, and consumers hear another. The Federal Trade Commission studied consumer perceptions of marketing language, and found that many consumers are confused by the phrase “up to,” in advertisements.
The FTC showed a test group of consumers advertisements for a window company that promised “up to 47% savings in energy costs.” More than one-third of the focus group participants misunderstood the “up to” claim, assuming that the window company promised about 47% instead of a possible maximum of 47% in energy savings.
Based on its findings, the FTC is advising advertisers to stop using “up to” claims that are often misleading.
In an effort to monitor the validity of energy efficiency claims, the study came on the heels of the FTC’s settlement with five window companies that were found to make unsupported claims about the energy efficiency of its products.
Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @emarrion_cmn.