Major retailer hits back at 'panic marketing' claims over coronavirus
A major Australian retailer has hit back at consumer advocacy group CHOICE's claims it has used "panic marketing" tactics to fuel consumer anxiety during the coronavirus crisis.
CHOICE claimed Mosaic Brands – the parent company behind Australian brands Rockmans, Katies, Millers, Rivers, Noni B, Beme, Autograph and Crossroads – used "pushy sales tactics".
"Mosaic Brands … 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," CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown said.
"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.
"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."
Speaking to 9News this afternoon, a Mosaic Brands spokesperson labelled CHOICE's claims "outrageous".
"We have no record of the organisation (CHOICE) contacting us to check the facts," the spokesperson said.
"We consider it very sad that an organisation should try to exploit the initiatives we have taken to help our customers in order to attract media coverage for itself."
The spokesperson said Mosaic Brands decided to source hand sanitiser and face masks from overseas in order to help its customers, who are having trouble finding them elsewhere.
The website for Mosaic fashion brand, Beme, was headlined with an advertisement for hand sanitiser and face masks reading "Home and health essentials; stay safe & clean – LIMITED STOCK – SHOP NOW".
Plus-sized women's fashion brand Autograph , reading: "BACK IN STOCK, PREORDER NOW – Stock up now before it's gone."
The websites are taking pre-orders of packets of 10 small bottles of hand sanitiser for $59.95 and 50 packs of 3-ply face masks for $89.95.
Mosaic Brands confirmed the company is not profiting from the arrangement, which is being operated on a cost-neutral basis.
"We will continue to consider other services we can provide on a cost-neutral basis to help our customers during this very difficult time," the company's spokesperson said.