Counterfeit products are damaging consumer trust every day. Consumers, dazzled by the cheaper prices of knock-offs, can be misled to purchase fake versions of products, only to learn that the product does not work as intended. If the brand isn't actively working to combat counterfeits, the consumer loses trust that she can distinguish between the original and counterfeit versions, and may opt to avoid the brand all together. Sales decline, brand reputation erodes, and the company can lose a significant portion of their market share. No company is immune: the plague of counterfeit products affects local and multi-national companies, from small shops set up outdoors to big chain businesses.
The good news is that there are several tools and strategies that can help brands fight fakes. Technology, particularly has been a strong driver for innovative anti-counterfeiting solutions, including serialization, track and trace, and packaging design. Consumers can even see these technologies in action. From holograms to authenticity stickers, tamper-evident seals to unique packaging, brands are putting technology's potential to work.
But what do you do when your product must be recalled? While the solutions mentioned above can be indicators for authentic products, they don't actually verify authenticity nor do they restore consumer trust after a product recall.
Consider the following steps for recalling a product:
- Crisis Management
- Solution Implementation
Crisis management is not a single department's duty, but the work of cross-functional teams with a unified goal of protecting the consumer and the brand. The brand must have a crisis management protocol in place, which includes preventive and reactive measures for business-impacting situations. In addition, the communications department, with advisement of the management team, must take necessary steps to convey information to stakeholders, consumers, and even employees. It is the responsibility of this team to alleviate concerns about the brand's integrity while cross-functional teams work internally to create a solution for the recall.
Awareness and communication appear twice in the list above because they are critical steps in ensuring that everyone affected is involved, educated, and updated on the recall. Several companies have failed due to lack of awareness and communication. Be it embarrassment about the recall or just poor oversight, when awareness and communication is not there, success is limited. With access to other sources of information outside of the company's control, the ability for the company to manage the situation can become even more complicated. Therefore, proactive communication is key to ensuring that the situation remains in your favour.
At every step of the way, when it makes sense, communicate with stakeholders and customers via newsletters, social media, email, and other appropriate channels. Receiving updates makes customers feel like the brand is working actively to protect them.
When a solution is created, educate the consumers on how it works and why that was chosen as the ideal solution. Transparency is key for your consumers to accept why the recall occurred and why the brand's resolution is the ideal route. Make sure that the solution itself is not too complex or inconvenient for the consumer. The last thing that the brand should do is to put the consumer through more stress by requiring active input through a long, drawn out process.
Once the solution is implemented, continuous awareness efforts and open communication will help regain trust that your brand is capable of fixing mistakes and can keep the customer protected.
With several years of experience in brand protection, Sproxil has been able to assist companies that have faced similar challenges through consulting, solution implementation and brand reputation building. If you are a company facing brand reputation issues and require guidance on how to proceed, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help you.