The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins $600,000 for “hijacking of opinion” its products on Amazon.
The Generous Company, FTC says in statementtricked consumers “into believing that its newly introduced supplements had more product ratings and reviews, higher average ratings, and ‘#1 Best Seller’ and ‘Amazon’s Choice’ badges.
Beyond the fine Generous You are also prohibited from making similar types of false statements and deceptive exam tactics.
It was the first time the FTC has sued a company for an alleged review. The practice takes advantage of an Amazon feature that allows vendors to create “variation” relationships between products that are similar but differ in specific ways, such as color, size or flavor. These appear as alternate choices on the product detail page.
The FTC says Bountiful created variants with new products to boost sales, citing internal emails which detailed a strategy of varying new products with the best-selling ones “to essentially ‘borrow’ the best-selling flags, ratings and reviews, as well as front-page placement” of the top sellers. A company official said Bountiful “used this strategy for all of our launches.”
“Improving your products by hijacking another product’s ratings or reviews is a relatively new tactic, but it’s still false advertising,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau. said in February when the charges were announced.
A spokesperson for Bountiful, a division of Nestlé Health Science, downplayed the penalty in a statement to Fortune.
“The Bountiful Company has settled this matter with the FTC to avoid a lengthy and costly legal challenge,” the spokesperson said. “We stand behind our products and our business practices and believe that consumers have not been misled or harmed by the variation practices implemented to help consumers find similar products. Bountiful already complies with the terms of the order and will continue to do so. »