The Federal Trade Commission recently commissioned a study that looked out how consumers perceive and comprehend the “up to” conditional in advertisements.
The researchers used different versions of an ad for windows one that stated that the windows were “proven to save up to 47% on heating and cooling bills,” and one that simply stated, “proven to save 47%.”
Of those who looked at the “up to” version, 45.6% mistakenly said the ad promised to save 47%. Meanwhile, only 58.3% of consumers who saw the unconditional version said the ad promised to deliver 47% savings. According to the FTC, the small difference between the two results indicates that the use of “up to” did little-to-nothing to change consumers’ perception that the ad was promising the maximum level of performance.
“Good afternoon, [name and hair color redacted]. We’ve come to take back those windows we installed.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because we still haven’t received your check, and it’s been thirteen months now.”
“But you told me these windows would pay for themselves in a year or less!”