Increased mobility and access to information with digital media and mobile gives consumers real power to shape the marketplace.  Yet consumers can be fickle and easily distracted, to say the least.

With so many options and constant change, the question for advertisers is:  how do we determine what reasonable consumer behavior and perceptions are when the norm is rapid change?  Let’s look at some examples of what it means to be “reasonable.”

In a recent class action lawsuit, consumers claimed they were deceived into believing Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit by the Foot snacks are made with real fruit.  Using the word “fruit” in the name, along with images of fruit on the packaging, could be enough for a “reasonable” consumer to believe that there was real fruit.  The court said that the ingredients list could not correct the message that “reasonable” consumers took away from the rest of the packaging.

How about a Nutella sandwich?  A court held that it was reasonable for consumers to believe Nutella was making health claims with some of its messaging, and focused on the line on the label:  “An example of a tasty yet balanced breakfast.”  In the end, Nutella had to pay $7 million to settle two class actions.  And, it also agreed to alter the alleged misleading line on the label to read:  “Turn a balanced breakfast into a tasty one.”  I guess “reasonable” consumers appreciate that level of subtlety.

Consumers are constantly adjusting and adapting their behavior based on technology, devices, and practices.  With the pace of change so fast and continuous, the new norm of what is “reasonable” is adapting to change.  Welcome to today’s “reasonable” consumer.