Altroconsumo, the influencer marketing in the supplement sector

Food supplements, herbal teas, diet products are often the subject of posts and advertising on social media. Unfortunately, however, it is a world, the digital one, in which enforcing the laws (which exist) is not always easy. So to defend against misleading posts, the consumer must be aware and informed in form and content. Altroconsumo, the largest independent consumer organization in Italy as part of a project funded by the European Commission (consumer protection program 2014-2020) organized a webinar (“Influencer marketing in the supplement sector”) with guests industry experts dedicated to consumers to understand the dynamics and learn to “defend themselves”. Davide Zanon Secretary General of the CIE, with the contributions of Bianca Luongo and Paolo Martinello – Altroconsumo, Avv. Marisa Marraffino – IAP and with the intervention of Luca Macellari Palmieri, professional of digital communication and the Influencer with almost 200 thousand followers on Instagram explained and made a picture of the advertising market on social media and what it is possible to write on advertising posts. The meeting within the FoodSuppAds project, funded by the European Commission (consumer protection program 2014-2020), is aimed at searching for cases of non-transparent or hidden advertising by verifying the content and correctness of advertising messages, in particular influencers who promote food supplements, especially on Instagram. Unclear messages, and often misleading in content. This is a very delicate area, in which the correctness of the information in addition to the transparency of the advertising message, has implications concerning health. always be “recognizable and distinguishable from other forms of communication”. So any post that is not recognizable and that omits the commercial intent is to be considered misleading. There are many cases from Juice Plus to Herbamour in which influencers or fake testimonials promoted the product in a not too transparent way.On Instagram, influencers with less than 10 thousand followers get much more interactions from the public than the most followed colleagues for their direct relationship with users. The influencer generates discount codes with the software made available by the company. These codes are offered to followers as if they were an “achievement” that the influencer managed to snatch for his followers and not as part of a commercial deal. The advantages are different: the influencer earns a percentage on purchases with discount codes in his name, the company is able to track sales and thus evaluate the ability of the influencer as a seller. Marisa Marraffino of IAP takes care of collecting the reports that arrive from users. When it comes to supplements, tablets, meal replacements, health is also in the field as well as the real effectiveness of the advertised product. “When promoting this type of product, words are very important and must not change the perception that the consumer may have of that product, especially if the post is not of a commercial nature and does not use hashtags” The Hashtag or # has been introduced to facilitate but also control the work of influencers. The Authority has decided to insert recognizable words such as # advertising, # sponsored, #advertising etc … in posts, videos and stories, to be followed by the name of the company. But in many sectors it did not work as hoped if you consider that in the fashion sector, the one in which this “legal” practice has been most used, it is present in 29.9% of posts. Even only 6% in food and drinks. One of the reasons for this poor performance is to be found in the intervention of Luca Macellari Palmieri who for ten years has been working as an expert in digital communication and is an influencer, who explained the limits of the practice of Hashtag. “It is absolutely right to regulate a world like that of advertising on social networks but be careful, the Instagram algorithm recognizes when hashtags and messages are put that indicate the advertisement and the post instead of reaching all followers, it reaches only 5-10%. This creates major problems with the customer on a contractual level, who expects numbers and who instead will have much lower numbers ”.

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