One year on from our last copycat packaging debate and the Government is consulting on making it easier for companies to take action against other firms they feel copy their packs. What do you think about copycats?
The proposal would allow firms to get a civil injunction under the Consumer Protection Regulations rather than relying on Trading Standards to do it. This has proved rare as it’s hard to determine whether there was a deliberate intention to mislead consumers. But, in an odd quirk of timing, the Saucy Fish Co. has just won a High Court injunction against Aldi’s saucy salmon fillets.
What’s new copycat?
In May 2013, our research found that more than a third of Which? members mistakenly identified at least one of the own-label products as the branded version. Whether they were bothered by this is a slightly different point. Of the one in five members who have unintentionally bought an own-brand product just 38% of them felt misled, which may suggest the majority were ‘happy’.
On the other hand, of those who had deliberately bought an own-label product, around 60% had actively bought the own-label because they wanted to see if it was as good as the branded one or just because it was cheaper.
And here on Which? Convo, you were split. The majority of you (56%) thought there was nothing wrong with shops copying other brands’ packs, with the remaining 44% saying it was wrong. Lots of people seem to like supermarket’s own-label products and they can quickly recognise one that is mimicking a popular brand. Others do feel misled and can’t judge whether an own-label is good quality or not.
So that’s why we want to hear from you again on copycat packaging to help inform our response to the Government’s consultation. Some questions include:
- Are you aware of what you can do if you think packaging is misleading? Do you know where to complain?
- Have you ever complained and, if so, to whom? What response did you get?
- Have you ever bought an own-label product by mistake for a different reason than it looked like the branded one, for example a simple lack of attention mistaking shampoo for conditioner?
- Can you give examples of branded or similarly packaged own label products that have not lived up to your quality expectations?
- Do you object to businesses being able to take easier action against other businesses they accuse of copycat packaging? Are there any unintended consequences of allowing this to happen?