Frequently asked questions about marketing

How should prices be indicated in marketing? Is subliminal advertising allowed? What is the difference between a discount sale and a special offer? Are you allowed to advertise goods as being free? Read the answers to many frequently asked questions.

Marketing, marketing communication and commercial communication broadly mean all types of commercial practices aimed at promoting a company’s sales or making its brand better known, including

  • advertising
  • information given on the packaging, in instructions for use of goods, or when concluding a sale
  • different sales promotion methods, including discounts, additional benefits and competitions.
  • Marketing includes not only information provided about a product or service but also a company’s image advertising.

Customer relationship means

  • a contractual relationship between a company and a consumer
  • contacts between a company and a consumer after the consumer has made a purchase or the company has provided a service, for example in connection with a defect in the goods or service, information about complaints or practices used to recover debts.

Marketing is subject to rules

Marketing is regulated under the Consumer Protection Act. Marketing and practices in a customer relationship must not violate good practice or be otherwise unfair for consumers.

The consumer authorities examine the overall impression the advertisement creates to decide if marketing is compliant with the law. However, certain practices are always unfair and prohibited, and case-by-case consideration is not applied to them. No one needs to put up with inappropriate or offensive advertising or being pressurised by a vendor.

General and prohibited marketing practices

  • Yes. An advertisement must make it clear that its intent is to market goods or services, and identify the advertiser. Commercial messages must not be hidden in other communication, and subliminal advertising is not permitted under any circumstances.

  • Unfair practices may not be used in marketing or a customer relationship. Misleading consumers, aggressive practices and omission of material information are examples of unfair practices.

    Marketing that violates good practice is also prohibited. Marketing must be in keeping with generally accepted values of society. This is why advertising must not discriminate against anyone. Idealising violence is also prohibited in advertising.

  • Yes, but marketing may not be misleading, and false information may not be provided. This is why the advertiser must be able to prove that any factual claims and comparisons they use are true. If products are compared to each other, the marketer must also ensure that the group against which their product is compared is representative of the offer.

  • Everyone has the right to prohibit the use of their personal data for direct marketing. If you do not wish to receive direct marketing communication, you can prohibit direct marketing.

    If the marketer intends to use your personal data for direct marketing, they must tell you about it when they are collecting your data. If the company does not tell you about it, your personal data may not be used for marketing purposes.

Price of goods or services

  • The obligation to indicate the price may vary for different goods and services, and it may depend on the sales channel used.

  • If you describe a product as being free even if the customer must pay for it, this is misleading marketing.

    If the word ‘free’ is used in connection with combination offers, the company must make sure that the overall impression created by their marketing is not misleading. A benefit advertised as being free must not be the main message of the advertisement.

Discount sales, special offers and other sales promotion methods

  • The difference between a discount sale and a special offer is that an offer usually is valid for a shorter time than a discount sale. The special offer usually covers a smaller number of products than a sale.

    In addition, the product on special offer does not have to be included in the shop’s normal product range. A newly opened shop can also have special offers.

    Discount sales are limited in time and involve a reduction in the price of a product sold by the business. The discount is calculated from the price at which the company has been selling the product before the discount sale.

  • When marketing customer loyalty programs, the company must tell the customers what the conditions for obtaining benefits are, including any fee for joining the program, and if personal data must be processed to manage the program.

    Customer loyalty benefits must not predominate the marketing of goods and services targeted at all consumers.

  • You can only refer to a clearance sale in marketing when the use of this expression is based on facts. Examples of situations where this word may be used are when a certain shop or its branch closes down, or the shop no longer includes a certain product group, model or branch in its product range.

Errors in marketing, feedback and supervision of marketing

  • The company is responsible for ensuring that the information in the advertisement is correct. The vendor must also correct any marketing information that contains errors or has changed.

    If you notice any shortcomings in a company’s advertising, you should report them directly to the company. A responsible company listens to its customers.

  • If the vendor has acted carelessly in their marketing, you can claim compensation for financial losses caused by an incorrect advertisement. For example, these losses include the costs of a wasted trip to the shop. You cannot claim compensation for distress or inconvenience.

    Because of the exceptional nature of special offers, there is no need to separately investigate if the advertiser has been careful. If, despite precautionary measures, the product on special offer is sold out while the offer is valid, the vendor must be prepared to compensate the consumer for the inconvenience caused.

  • The Consumer Ombudsman supervises the legality of marketing. If you noticed an inappropriate advertisement, report it to the Consumer Ombudsman. These reports will be used for supervision purposes.