The Comesa Competition Commission (CCC) has turned its attention to the influential world of social media, where influencers have come under scrutiny for potentially misleading consumers into making purchases based on deceptive marketing practices.

According to the CCC, there is a growing trend of consumers falling victim to scams due to inaccurate or misleading promotions carried out by influencers in collaboration with various suppliers.

Highlighting the significance of transparency, the watchdog emphasizes that influencers must provide accurate information and explicitly disclose any benefits they receive from the products they endorse.

The CCC insists that such disclosures should be presented in a clear and conspicuous manner to ensure consumers are well-informed about the nature of these promotional campaigns.

“Influencers and suppliers of goods and services who engage in giving false and misleading representations to consumers are warned that such conduct is a violation of Article 27 of the COMESA Competition Regulations,” said CCC.

This regulatory intervention aims to safeguard consumers from deceptive practices in the marketplace.

In an effort to empower consumers, the CCC encourages individuals to remain vigilant and report any misleading conduct to the Commission for swift action. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek support from their local consumer authorities if they believe their consumer rights have been infringed upon.

The rise of influencers with substantial followings has reshaped the landscape of product advertising, challenging traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radios, and television.

These influencers leverage their popularity on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to directly compete with legacy media in promoting various goods and services.

As the industry evolves, regulatory bodies like the CCC play a crucial role in ensuring ethical marketing practices and protecting the interests of consumers in the digital age.

Who is an influencer?

Famous individuals or organisations with expert or social influence, that leverage on their celebrity status to attract a large following on social media.

How do companies market through influencers?

The influencers are engaged by companies to give reviews, approve products, increase brand awareness, promote events, or help launch new products.

What are the modes of influencer advertising

Brand ambassadors. The influencer becomes the face of the brand for a period of time and makes public appearances wearing or using the brand. They share content on the brand regularly.

Social Media mentions and reviews – the influencer is supplied with the product or gift and in turn share own experience on the brand on social media.

Discount codes – the influencer announces discounts to consumers who purchase the product using their specific codes.

Competitions and giveaways -the influencers host competitions and giveaways on their platforms where they give away the product to their followers.

Pre-release and product activation – influencers are used to introduce new products to their followers on social media.

How are consumers misled?

In some cases, the influencers fail to disclose that they have been paid or that they have received the products or services for free, or they give unverified and false information to consumers regarding the products.

How are consumers harmed by this conduct?

Consumers may in some instances be misled to think that the information provided by the influencer is accurate and is based on objective assessment when in reality it is not true. This results in consumers making decisions they would ordinarily not have made.