9 March 2022 | Reading time: 2 minutes
Manipulative digital marketing
Following on from its Digital platform services inquiry, the ACCC will be centring in on manipulative or ‘dark pattern’ techniques used to exploit or strong-arm consumers. Mr Sims referred specifically to everyday online retail occurrences, such as:
The ACCC will also be watching out for influencers who utilise their platform to promote consumer goods without clearly disclosing that they have been paid (or received some other incentive) to do so. Advertisers of therapeutic goods will also be subject to the new Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2021, which also has an impact on influencer marketing.
Market power holders engaging in exclusive arrangements
The ACCC will make a concerted effort to identify and address companies with market power engaging in exclusionary behaviour (such as exclusive supply arrangements) that materially impacts competition by restricting access to bottleneck goods.
The ACCC will also be focussing on ‘most favoured nation clauses’ that prevent competitors to powerful businesses from offering better pricing to consumers.
Misleading environmental and sustainability claims
Mr Sims noted growing concerns in relation to the use of misleading environmental credentials to capitalise on a consumer’s eco-friendly preferences. As a result of this behaviour, businesses suffering genuine expenses of environmentally friendly manufacturing processes face unfair opposition from businesses making the same ‘green claims’, but not incurring any of the same costs.
The ACCC will not only focus sustainability claims made in relation to consumer goods, but will be reviewing all such claims made about manufacturing process, carbon neutrality and the energy sector.
Avoid unwanted scrutiny
Businesses should closely review their practices and agreements to ensure compliance with consumer and competition laws where they are: