Marketing Say Leather, Lawyers Say Leather Look

Sell more products, after all that’s how automotive manufacturers make money. But when you sell too hard and overstate your product specifications, you’ll have the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) knocking at your door in no time. We see it time and again, and not just in the automotive industry. Let’s talk about an issue that’s been more prevalent of late.

It has many names, comes in a variety of synthetic and organic mixtures and if you were paying attention to the title you would have guessed it; leather. As a consumer, when you read the words ‘leather seats’, you expect to be getting 100% genuine leather all over, but in many cases, this is far from reality. For various reasons, there has been a trend for brands to use a mix between real and synthetic leather, forcing creative writers to bring their a-game and conjure up some clever ways to describe their product. Just grab a brochure and check out their handy-work. Leatherette, pleather, ARTICO, polyurethane leather, Maztex, leather seat facings, bonded leather, MB-tex, premium leather, alcantara, amny, buffalo; they’re all saying the same thing…includes fake leather or fake suede.

It’s a problem that isn’t just limited to cars. The ACCC presented a case that saw a market leading furniture brand Fantastic Furniture having to “not use the terms ‘leather’ or ‘hide’ to describe upholstery that is not wholly leather without clearly disclosing the fact it is not wholly leather for a period of three years”.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel states, “The ACCC will not tolerate traders in the furniture or any other industry misrepresenting predominantly synthetic materials as leather.” We’ve known this for a long time now, and it is recommended that automotive brands conduct independent Vehicle Audits to prevent issues with customers and the ACCC.

Whilst brands acknowledge this issue, it is only one of thousands of features that are scrutinised and many are often neglected due to the complexity of managing and verifying the details. If the ACCC decides to clamp down harder, I’m sure that no brands want to be caught in the crosshairs.

Full article from the ACCC, Clearer labelling for ‘leather look’ furniture