As we have noted in a previous post, product labeling is not viewed as a decision that excites many marketers. Instead, it tends to be way down the list of decisions that are believed to be critical to the success of a product. This is especially the case when it comes to printed product usage information (i.e., directions, warnings). In fact, many marketers prefer to limit usage information on their product labels preferring instead to focus on showing the brand logo and explaining the benefits offered by the product.
It may seem strange that companies often prefer the “less-is-better” approach to usage labeling. Yet, some marketers feel covering the label with too much detail may intimidate or overwhelm customers. They fear customers will wonder why there is so much information on a package and is it worth their time reading all the finely printed details. While covering a label with usage information may have some customers think twice about a purchase, placing the word WARNING on a label will undoubtedly cause many customers to stop the purchase altogether. Often imprinting a warning on a label is a requirement handed down by a governmental authority, who believe buyers need to understand clearly the potential risks when using a product. Of course, marketers actively resist having warnings printed on their label and often will go to great lengths (and expense) to fight it.
A good example of resistance can be seen in this story for the Los Angeles Times. It reports on packaging issues faced by soft drink and sport drink companies in California. These companies fought hard to defeat a proposed legislation that would require these drinks carry a warning label with the message stating: “Drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.“
It should be noted the story was written by an LA Times columnist, so it is essentially an opinion article, but nonetheless it does provide an interesting example of how companies will fight to protect their product labels. Also, as discussed in the included YouTube video, while drink marketers were successful this time, as more information surfaces this issue will likely be raised again.