ASA ruling on the use of price promotions

Photograph of shelves with promotions in a supermarket Print publication


In November 2017 a well known supermarket ran a price promotion for Haagen-Dazs ice cream. The text of the promotion on their website stated “Only £3.00: Save £1.00”. The advertisement was challenged on the basis that it was misleading because the reduction didn’t represent a genuine saving.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaint. The ASA looked at the pricing history for the product and found that the price of the ice cream had fluctuated between a ‘base price’ of £4.00 and a ‘promo price’ of £3.00 every 21 days. Because the difference in price followed a cyclical pattern, the lower promotion price couldn’t be said to be a genuine saving against a usual selling price. Therefore the savings claim was deemed to be misleading and the supermarket was ordered to ensure that any future savings claims did not misleadingly imply savings against the usual selling price of the product.

WM Comment

This finding will have a big impact on food retail pricing practices. It is common practice for the major supermarkets to run promotions on a regular basis. It could be said that many food products do not have a usual selling price so claims of savings are now looking at risk of challenge.