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Meaningless percentages header


Does anyone else have a problem with meaningless percentages or is it just me?

It seems that everywhere I look at the moment there are adverts on the TV, the Internet and on packaging saying meaningless things like…

‘Up to 100% better protection!’

‘Kills up to 99% of household germs!’


Beware of Weasel wordsThe key phrase or ‘weasel words’ as I like to call them is ‘UP TO’.

Up to’ means ‘Less than’ and it could be any percentage less than – the slogans don’t specify how much less – so let’s replace ‘Up to’ with ‘Less than’ and see what happens….

Up to 100% better protection’ becomes ‘Less than 100% protection’

‘Kills up to 99% of household germs’ becomes ‘Kills less than 99% of household germs’

Think about it… what is actually being said here is ‘Our product is NOT 100% effective’


…And what about ‘Up to 60% shinier hair’ – shinier than WHAT? How do you quantify shininess? On what international scale of shininess are they basing this claim?

And there are those weasel words ‘Up to’ again…. Aaargh!

While I’m on a roll…what about the sales claims…

SALE! Up to 70% off selected lines!

It’s MEANINGLESS – Up to 70% off selected lines means nothing – ‘Up to’ contains all the percentages from 0% to 70% and says nothing about if any of them are actually AT 70% off.

All it says is that ‘selected lines’ could have UP TO 70% off…

As a marketing professional, it makes me so cross when I see this sort of Weasel Marketing being used in place of Good Marketing – people are not daft…customers see through it and these brands are actually in danger of losing business because of it.

Much better is to be honest with customers and say something with meaning like ‘SALE! 25% or more off selected lines’ or ‘Now your hair will look even shinier!’

What do you think? Does this sort of thing annoy you too?

Let me know your thoughts on Facebook (no swears please though, even if you are tempted!)

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