Editor's note: Dominique Romanowski is vice president of MMR Strategy Group, an Encino, Calif., research firm.

Are you considering making advertising claims that consumers think your brand is superior versus the competition? If so, you are likely aware that the Federal Trade Commission Act requires that advertisers have a reasonable basis for their claims prior to introducing the claims to the marketplace.1 This means that you must have research to substantiate the claim and it must be completed before running the advertising.

Perhaps you have already done some consumer testing that indicates your brand is preferred. You may be wondering if your existing testing could substantiate a claim and withstand a potential challenge from a competitor. Or perhaps you plan to conduct a new study but are not familiar with the requirements of research designed for claim substantiation.

Superiority claims, such as “Brand X is preferred to Brand Y” or “Brand X tastes better than Brand Y,” may be challenged by a competitor. In that case, the advertiser will likely rely on the research to help defend the claim before one of the regulatory bodies responsible for resolving disputes about deceptive advertising, such as a federal court or the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau.

These venues hold research for claim substantiation to specific standards that may be different than standards typically followed in research conducted for other purposes, such as during the development of a new product or improved formula. If you are considering making superiority claims about your product, such as a food or beverage brand, here are four things to keep in mind about tests for advertising claim substantiation.

Consider the claim you want to make. Does the claim refer to a specific brand, the category as a whole or to a specific type of consumer? The claim will define the correct populati...