Claims Support Seminar

Now in its third year, the proDERM Academy Claims Workshop brought together another wide faculty of experts from diverse backgrounds covering all aspects of the claims development process. This year’s workshop, welcomed by proDERM Academy host Klaus Peter Wilhelm, opened with a practical session at the proDERM Clinical Research Centre. Demonstrations and practical knowledge were given on how to generate evidence for claims substantiation focusing on: ageing and facial parameters; sun-care and SPF measurements; antiperspirants and deodorants; and clinical photography.

The second day opened lively and full of energy which by no means slackened off. The first session focused on claims and the consumer. The keynote lecture was given by Theresa Callaghan (Callaghan Consulting International, Germany) on how a common sense approach to claims development will prevail. Theresa  described what claims actually are, the objectives you need to be clear about when developing a claim in terms of concepts, product users, expectations of claims, what is to be measured and the weight of evidence required before a claim can be finalised. Examples of claims were given in all their media formats especially the use of images and photographs and the places where claims are found – literally everywhere. The presentation ended on a cautionary note highlighting the role and understanding of the consumer throughout the claims legislative process.

Erik Schipper (i3 Innovate, Sweden)  continued the upbeat focus on the reality and enigma of the average consumer. The clear message was we need to be very aware of consumer insights when developing claims and the importance of how they fit together. A cautionary tale combined with real-life videos pushed the message home – listen to and understand the consumer. We need to precisely understand 3 key issues — what consumers say they do, what consumers actually do and why consumers do what they do, and should never be biased toward a marketing whim.

The second session looked at the regulatory aspects of cosmetic claims. Manuela Coroama from Cosmetics Europe in Brussels, reiterated the importance of the claims development process revolving around the average consumer. Manuela also gave some insights into 2016 report which covered the feedback from a number of EU countries regarding non-compliance of claims in various media format. Much discussion was had as to whether the feedback was accurate given the number of claims reviewed in such a short time-space. Moreover one of the main conclusions of the feedback report was that the most non-complaint claims are still those which mislead consumers in terms of function and performance with little evidence being provided, as well as the free-from claims considered denigrating to ingredients permitted. However, the whole process of claims development and inspection is such a grey area with much to be resolved, and this was a running theme throughout the course.

Chris Gummer (Cider Solutions & Clearcast Consultant, UK) then presented one aspect of the claims legislation – an overview of the advertising rules for cosmetics both within the EU and around the globe. In the EU the Advertising Standards Alliance shares common policies and deals with cross border complaints. Clearly, whilst there are some regional differences, all of the advertising authorities demand that advertising should be fair and truthful, not be harmful to consumers, be made in consideration of their impact on children and the young, be decent as regards to social customs and manners, and be in compliance with relevant laws, regulations and public policies.

Tanja  Zidan (CEway, Slovenia) provided the “reality” perspective of the role of the Responsible Person (RP). Whilst major brands and multinational companies have their own internal RP function(s), SME’s (small & medium enterprises) contract this service to either independent companies or even their contract manufacturer. Tanja reiterated the warning, also given in a number of the presentations, that SME’s have to comply with the legislation. This would be helped if the EU Commission better defined the role and responsibilities of independent RP’s in terms of liability. Many brands do not provide correct or adequate claims information, a position easily challenged by an inspecting authority. Many SME’s are still unwilling to comply with the legislation e.g. such as copy-paste raw material suppler data, and want to make claims that would be non-compliant.  Legislation needed to be more specific and the Commission  must better define the qualifications of an independent RP when it comes to understanding all levels of claims evidence.

Eva-Maria Kratz (CVUA, Germany) then covered the viewpoint of the claims inspecting authority. Claims are inspected based on the six common criteria and take into account language differences as regards skin definition and the relevance of claims based on degree of justification evidence. Furthermore, health-like claims and active ingredients are a key focus point for inspection, as are the way brands transfer raw material supplier data which is considered unacceptable depending on the claims being made. Proper evidence is required to support claims and the judges will always evaluate them from the viewpoint of the consumer – their expectations, understanding and relevance.

The afternoon session workshop opened with a focus on new claims areas at each end of the cosmetic spectrum, notably natural & organic plus cosmetic devices. An interesting and refreshing presentation was given by Judi Beerling (Organic Monitor, UK) on Organic and Natural claims and the opportunities as well as the challenges that invariably arise. Whilst there is market growth in this filed creating authentic products with real consumer benefits is clearly required! Judi discussed the various organic and natural authorising bodies and the efforts of COSMOS and Natrue to qualify each ingredient in a central database. However there are central or specific regulations for natural or green claims even though there is “regulation” as regards to sourcing of natural/organic ingredients.

Arne Böhling (proDERM, Germany) then discussed with us consumer cosmetic and medical devices, a growing category of products in the cosmetic industry. Arne explained the differences between cosmetic devices, medical devices and cosmetic products from the legislation viewpoint. Interestingly and with a number of examples, Arne also proposed a number of best practice options when it came to testing and supporting claims in this field, especially in light of the competitive advantages they can bring.

The mid-late afternoon session set the stage for a practical claims workshop. Delegates were provided with a tranche of data covering consumer assessments, market share and technical study performance data for a new product from which they had to create a number of solid claims. Delegates, working in teams, were encouraged to  interpret the data and compile strong and provocative claims. What followed was lively and vocal group session where claims were presented, robustly challenged and in some cases very-well defended! The take-home message here was clearly “does the consumer understand what you are getting at, and is it actually relevant to them”.

The energy from Day 2 carried over to the final day of the seminar and the opening session looked at where and how to obtain the data needed to help build up the weight of evidence required for claims development. Firstly, Stephan Bielfeldt (proDERM, Germany) opened the session with a concise overview of how information to develop a claim can be provided by clinical setting. Clinical studies are one of the best approaches to obtain credible and relevant information for claims and a wide variety of methods and tools are available. Studies need to be scientific and results must be based on sound statistical evaluation. For successful claims, good claim substantiation relies on effective cooperation between marketing, R&D, lawyers, regulatory affairs and the study investigator (CRO). It was important to note that claims can only be an interpretation of any data and, therefore, the claim risks are always the responsibility of the study sponsor and not the CRO.

The subject of scientific data was further elaborated by Harald van der Hoeven (CLR, Germany) from the responsibility and innovation perspective of the active ingredients raw material supplier — active ingredients are commonly the basis of many cosmetic claims. Harald gave a good overview of the challenges of the market and demands of brands for strong claims. Whilst the legislation in principle applies only to consumer products, it does impact enormously on the active ingredient supplier. Furthermore, consumers do not exactly believe in product claims they are results driven. Harald spoke about the perils of extrapolation of ingredient properties into final product claims and again highlighted a previous theme on the issue that SME’s and compliancy. Harald’s parting comment was for cosmetic companies to be more distrustful of their raw material supplier and ask the right questions, demand the evidence and don’t copy-paste from their data sheets! Customers need to develop and prove their own claims, whilst the raw material supplier data is only used as a guidance or a means to the end product claims.

Consumer trials for claims development were then presented by Shazia Ginai (Good Hair Day, UK).  Shazia showed that world really is cluttered with cosmetic claims and as such the bombardment of them by advertising companies give rise to many consumer perceptions which are mis-read by developers if they are not careful. Consumer research is very powerful as it showcases the realistic perspectives and they go hand-in-hand with the technical support provided by laboratory and CRO testing. Consumer language and avoidance of bias and “forcing” in questioning are paramount in consumer studies.

The second and final session of the seminar looked at expert endorsements for claims and TV advertising. Klaus-Peter Wilhelm took us through using seals and endorsements as part of the overall “claims” package, and provided a number of interesting examples on how these can work to improve sales and product credibility. Seals have a long tradition in many consumer areas including cosmetics. However, it is important to take into account that seals and endorsements must also comply within the regulations with responsibility falling to the manufacturer and seal provider, especially when challenged either legally or by a competitor. On this note Klaus-Peter provided a very good example of what happens when challenged in advertising such endorsements and claims. The strength and credibility of a seal will always depend on the integrity and reputation of the seal provider!

Chris Gummer then brought us full circle and the event was closed out with a lively presentation on how to prepare claims support evidence for advertising in the UK and the requirements of Clearcast.  Chris outlined the tough and detailed requirements of UK advertising and predicted a similar process in progress for the EU, as mentioned in his earlier presentation from Day 2. In fact, Clearcast already gives guidance on the requirements for claim support and advertising in other EU countries.

In all this event was yet another excellent success, and judging from the feedback the course delivered as part of proDERM Academy programmes, will become essential for anyone (especially marketing, R&D and legal) involved in claim substantiation or claims regulation in the cosmetics industry. We look forward to welcoming you all to the next annual Claims seminar to be held again in Hamburg, November 2017.