The most dreaded word any product manufacturer fears the most is probably the word "recall".
The public has almost become immune to recalls in the automotive industry.
Last year's recall of the explosive Samsung Galaxy Note7 will probably be burned in everyone's mind forever (pardon the pun). Then there is the recent beer recall of Sierra Nevada and last year's Revolution Brewing and Real Ale beer recalls.
Is there life after a recall?
What kind of beer marketing strategy should come in to play to reassure consumers and restore faith in a brand?
Managing A Recall
First things first. The first strategy to be laid out is managing the actual product recall.
A company wants to be informative, building a relationship of confidence with consumers rather than creating fear and anger. These words of wisdom should be the spirit of a successful recall strategy, designed to minimize damage:
"...confidence... thrives on honesty, on honour, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live..." - President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933
From past successes and failures by other businesses, here are the characteristics of a well managed recall:
- Do not challenge customers who complain about the product's flaw. Rather, use a no-questions-asked return/replace policy.
- Instead of relying on consumer complaints to identify an issue, be pro-active at tracking consumer experience in order to be the first to find a problem. For example, Netscape Communications Corporation has a policy of cash prizes for anyone who finds and reports problems with test version software.
- Rapid response - perform a voluntary recall as soon as an issue is identified, once again pre-empting consumer action.
- Keep return/replace simple, quick and accessible. Make it possible for every consumer to benefit from a return/replace, even if it means going to the ends of the earth at company expense to care for a customer's need.
- Personalize response from the top, such as the example of Intuit's chairman including a personal apology letter with replacement software.
- Always be recall-ready with a plan already in place and a response team organized.
- Reassure the public with easy access to the latest information and updates , keeping consumers informed of what is going on, the action they should take and the measures the company is taking,
- Turn what could be a disaster into a success story. For example, Black & Decker engaged in an aggressive recall of a faulty coffeemaker which, in the end, generated goodwill among customers and actually strengthened the brand.
Life After Recall
Marketing strategies should focus on rebuilding consumer confidence after a recall.
Although not exactly a re-branding effort, the guidelines of a re-branding marketing strategy can be applied to create a fresh image un-associated with the past problem.
The following tips can help craft an approach to reshape a product, strengthen consumer trust, and create an appetite for your beer again:
- Focus on the positive.
- Stay authentic and genuine.
- Focus on enhancing customer experience.
- Emerge with a renewed commitment and promise of excellence to customers.
- Shape the new image as evolution, a natural process of growth and renewal rather than reformation after failure.
- New logos and visuals are less important than message. You still want customers to be able to identify your brand. Your goal should weigh heavier on the nuances of a message that your brewery has reached another level of maturity in the beer industry.
- Re-emergence is a unified effort with a unified front. The head of the company should be part of the face of change, a re-introduction, so to speak, and supported by every employee.
Life after recall is fraught with risk.
It takes expertise to understand the psychological effects upon consumers.
Don't trust a recall recovery marketing strategy to anyone but experienced marketing professionals.
Despite all the negativity associated with recalls, the right recovery campaign can actually result in a company bouncing back stronger than ever.