An investigation into the need for further regulation of puffery in advertisements, in light of E-Commerce.

Vijayasingam, R 2017, An investigation into the need for further regulation of puffery in advertisements, in light of E-Commerce., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title An investigation into the need for further regulation of puffery in advertisements, in light of E-Commerce.
Author(s) Vijayasingam, R
Year 2017
Abstract Puffery refers to advertising presentations that are based on exaggerated claims, opinions and superlatives. There are no legal liabilities attached to its usage, and the legal protection given to puffery enables marketers to use it extensively in the promotion of their products. One of the issues with this, however, is that puffery influences purchases despite the exaggerated nature of its claims. The false presentation of products as possessing desirable attributes, or not possessing negative attributes, is thus allowed freedom from legal repercussion. While there are boundaries that separate puffery from misleading conduct, their demarcation is not always clear.

Consumers face the risk of being misled and not having a legal remedy. A consumer in the brick-and-mortar space is able to verify the authenticity of exaggerated claims made before making a purchase decision and thus can abate this disparity. This abatement will not be the same for consumers in the online sphere. Online purchases do not give the consumer an opportunity to examine the product prior to the purchase, and thus reliance on the claims made is higher. Newer trends in marketing and purchasing methods indicate that there is an increasing migration of businesses and consumers to the online medium. This means that there will be a larger population facing the difficulty of determining the authenticity of promotions and products.

This thesis examines the need for tighter regulation in the area of puffery usage in online advertisements in Australia. An analysis of the Conceptual Model, using Partial Least Square Structured Equation Modelling, reveals that marketers’ exploitation of legal uncertainties and the consumer’s lack of knowledge regarding remedies leads to increased victimisation of consumers. Focus group and online survey findings indicate that the line between puffery and misleading practices is blurred. The continuous litigation taken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission against errant companies for misleading practices further substantiates these findings. It is imperative that tighter regulations are implemented so that consumers and marketers are both on equal footing and are fully aware of the boundaries that delineate puffery from misleading conduct. This research hopes to persuade both the private and public sectors to establish appropriate guidelines pertaining to puffery in the online environment.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Graduate School of Business and Law
Subjects Marketing Communications
International Trade Law
Commercial and Contract Law
Keyword(s) Puffery
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Created: Fri, 16 Mar 2018, 13:05:29 EST by Denise Paciocco
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