Dual quality marketing: news from Europe

New European rules will be introduced for the marketing of dual quality products: products of the same brand and with the same packaging, but with a different quality per Member State. Are the rules getting stricter, or will it turn out better than expected?

Earlier we mentioned the upcoming amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. These amendments were approved by the European Parliament and submitted to the European Council.

One of the changes concerns the marketing of dual quality products. A politically charged subject: some politicians (especially in Central and Eastern Europe) see this practice as intolerable discrimination and consider it to be deceptive. For example, when fish sticks of a well-known brand contain more fish in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. However, many companies see the differentiation in quality as a logical market function: products are adapted to local needs. For example, a product is made accessible to consumers in Member States where incomes are lower than, for example, in Western Europe.

Initially, the European Parliament wanted to take firm action to ban the marketing of dual quality products. It didn’t get that far. However, dual quality marketing will become a practice that is misleading under certain circumstances. The new rule leaves room for interpretation, but it seems that not only can there be deception with explicit quality claims (“The same high quality, now also in the Czech Republic! “). Failure to state that the quality is lower may also be prohibited.

Active enforcement by consumer authorities in Central and Eastern Europe is obvious, precisely because this is a politically relevant issue. Exporting companies (especially in the food industry) will therefore have to think carefully about their branding, product composition and marketing in Central and Eastern Europe. Questions about this subject? We like to think along with you.

Bram Duivenvoorde

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