SAN FRANCISCO, June 22 Wal-Mart Stores Inc
(WMT.N) needs to make its price-matching policies clearer and
stop claiming in a television commercial that viewers can save
more than $700 a year buying groceries in its stores, an
advertising industry self-regulating group said on Monday.
The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better
Business Bureaus said it examined Wal-Mart's ads after
competing food retailer H-E-B Grocery Co challenged the
discount retailer's claims.
H-E-B said Wal-Mart's ads touting "Unbeatable Prices" were
interpreted by consumers as a lowest price guarantee, but
Wal-Mart's disclaimer failed to fully reveal limitations on its
H-E-B also challenged a Wal-Mart ad telling consumers that
if they spent $100 a week on groceries at a supermarket, "you
could save on average over $700 a year" by buying those kinds
of groceries at Wal-Mart.
After studying the ads, NAD said that while Wal-Mart, the
largest U.S. grocery seller, could support its "Unbeatable
Prices" advertising claims, it should make its price-matching
disclosures "substantially more clear and conspicuous" in ads
where it uses the "Unbeatable" claim.
NAD also said that Wal-Mart's claim of $700 in grocery
savings "was not supported by the evidence in the record" and
should be discontinued.
While the Wal-Mart ad cites a cost comparison study by
Global Insight, NAD said there was a "significant disconnect"
between the study and the claim made in the commercial.
"In the challenged commercial, Wal-Mart promises 'you,'
i.e. the individual watching the commercial, that 'you' could
save, on average, over $700 a year by shopping at Wal-Mart,"
NAD said in its report.
But NAD said the "Global Insight Study cannot support this
message, as it concerns a national average. The competitive
landscape of grocers varies largely throughout the nation."
Wal-Mart said it disagreed that its $700 grocery savings
claim was not adequately substantiated.
"Although we are not currently running this particular
spot, we firmly believe that this claim is well-supported by
the Global Insight study," Wal-Mart said in a statement.
The retailer said it would take NAD's recommendations into
account in future advertising.
(Reporting by Nicole Maestri, editing by Matthew Lewis)