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Major retailers exploiting COVID-19 with “panic marketing”: CHOICE

Rivers, Millers, Noni B and others engage in “disgraceful marketing tactics.”

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Consumer advocate CHOICE is calling on Australian brands not to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis with pushy sales tactics that fuel consumer anxiety. 

Mosaic Brands — the parent company behind Australian retail brands Rockmans, Katies, Millers, Rivers, Noni B, Beme, Autograph and Crossroads — have fuelled consumer anxiety with ads and email direct marketing calling for consumers to "stock up now before it’s gone" on face masks and hand sanitiser.

"Australians expect more from major retailers at this time. Using pushy sales tactics to exploit anxiety about COVID-19 to encourage panic buying is not on. These are disgraceful marketing tactics," says CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown. 

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Screenshot March 19

CHOICE has found multiple examples of this well-known Australian brand using terms like:

  • "STOCK UP NOW BEFORE IT’S GONE"

  • "LIMITED STOCK - SHOP NOW"

  • "ORDER NOW! LIMITED STOCK"

  • "STOCK UP AND STAY SAFE"

"The Prime Minister has called for calm. We think this advice should apply to the business community too. We need all brands to be responsible and support the community to navigate these challenges, rather than cash in on fear." 

CHOICE is closely monitoring business behaviour during the COVID-19 breakout. 

"We're actively looking out for businesses that see this as an opportunity to take advantage of people who are worried – through misleading advertising, price gouging or shonky health claims."

"This "panic marketing" from Mosaic brands was identified by CHOICE members - they are our eyes and ears. We’re asking anyone who sees panic marketings, misleading claims or dodgy practices to report it at choice.community." 

CHOICE is asking people who see this behaviour to speak up and get in touch at newstips@choice.com.au or tell us at choice.community.

Media contact: Jim Hook, media@choice.com.au, 0430 172 669

Images available at: https://shwca.se/panicmarketing