Advertisement and Claims on Cosmetic Products in India: Regulatory Overview

Sujit Kumar, Roop Narayan Gupta

Abstract: The Indian cosmetic Industry has witnessed a rapid growth in sales in the last couple of decades. It is growing at an average rate of almost 20% annually. The range of cosmetic products has increased tremendously. This increase is attributed to the increased awareness of Indian people about their appearances, their purchasing power and also the advertisements and its alluring claims. With the introduction of satellite television and internet, the average Indian consumer is constantly bombarded with advertisements and information on new cosmetic products which often translates into the desire to purchase them. Now-a-days, these advertisements and claims of cosmetics are major issue globally. The legislation to control these advertisements and claims are weak and not in the interest of the consumers in India. This article discusses the global situation on this issue and provides suggestions with respect to India.
An advertisement may be defined as a paid-for communication, addressed to the public or a section of it, the purpose of which is to influence the opinions or behavior of those to whom it is addressed.1 Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines advertisement as a picture, short film, song etc. which tries to persuade people to buy a product or service. Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements), Act, 1954 describes advertisement as any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document and any announcement made orally or by means of producing or transmitting light, sound or smoke.2 Advertising and claims of the products is an important and legitimate means for a seller to awaken interest in their products. It is often described as commercial speech. Advertising, both traditional and online, has grown in a major way in India. A lot of advertisements for cosmetic products are telecast on the television (TV) routinely. Vivel Active fair (ITC) advertises to claim “complete fairness cream, in just seven days”; Garnier Fructis shampoo (L’Oreal) advertises as “makes the hair stronger by five times( Shown as pulling a truck by hair)”; Himalaya’s shampoo claims/advertises as “made from 100% herbal active” on TV. The claims made in these advertisements are often exaggerated and therapeutic. Claims are made on the label/leaflets also to promote and sell their products in the market. This article highlights the trends and practises being followed in advertisement and claims on cosmetic products by the industry and the lacuna in the regulation. Situations with regard to India are discussed. Different types of claims made on the label of cosmetic products are shown in table 1.



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