30 Nisan 2016 Cumartesi

A Transparent Crisis: The Mars Incident And The Turkish Consumer

In recent weeks, Mars was added to the list of brands that have recalled their products. After a consumer in Germany found pieces of plastic inside a Snickers bar, the brand recalled its products in a total of 55 countries. Milky Way, Snickers, Celebrations, and Mini Mix are among the products the brand said it “voluntarily” recalled as a “precaution.”

The crisis Mars is facing will undoubtedly impact its revenue. In the short term, all expenses, including logistical ones as well as those related to returns, will be reflected on the brand. Since recalled products in the food category do not offer an opportunity to fix the problem and relaunch, all defective products will be eliminated.

In the long term, even greater fears await the brand. Although this is the first recall in its history, Mars has experienced repercussions on social media, as all other brands that recall their products do. Since each new recall can evoke memories of past incidents, the consumer experiences a greater disappointment every time. Toyota, Mattel, Ikea, Volkswagen…

As the list expands, the overall confidence in brands decreases.

On the other hand, recent recalls have shown how fragile and unprepared all brands are when faced with a reputation crisis. One of the most fundamental questions an organization must answer is how it wants to appear on the outside as it manages a crisis. To fulfill liabilities in order to regain consumer trust, or to follow a comprehensive strategy consistent with the brand’s overall image…

Though the causes behind the crisis, and the response strategy may vary, the steps the brand takes to regain consumer trust will be the main factor in determining whether or not it will exist in the future.
According to Mars’s narrative, the executives claim that this situation is different than other scandals, and that there was no foul play targeting the consumers and no flaws in the supply chain. For this reason, the brand executives say that if managed well, this crisis could actually improve brand reputation.

While the world awaits Mars’s response to the crisis, we conducted a research project aiming to measure the impact of the crisis on Turkish consumers. The sample group consists of 100 female consumers aged between 20-45, residing in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir.

The research results showed that only 10% of consumers had heard the news of the Mars product recall. 30% of consumers stated that they regularly consume at least one among Mars, Snickers, Milky Way, and Twix…

Of those who do not normally consume these products, when asked if they would continue to do so after hearing the news, had they previously been regular consumers, only 14% stated that they would. When the actual consumers of Mars, Snickers, Milky Way, or Twix were asked if they would continue to buy these products, 32% stated they would.

Also, 31% of those who said, “I would continue to consume these products” despite hearing the news of the incident, when asked “Why?”, stated this was because they thought it was unlikely for the incident to repeat. These consumers do not believe the same problem will reoccur since the defective products were recalled. Among other reasons to continue to consume the product were “rebuilt confidence in the brand due to the product recall,”  “the company’s fulfillment of its responsibilities,” “ignoring the incident,” and “avoiding generalization based on a single problematic incident.”

When consumers who said, “I would not continue to consume these products” were asked “Why?” 15% stated they had “health concerns,” 14% stated they “have confidence issues/do not want to risk it,” while 10% said they “expect a reoccurrence of the same problem after such an incident.” Among other reasons to discontinue are “to avoid personally experiencing such an incident” and, “reputation issues.”

When the consumers were asked what they thought of the brand after the incident and how they viewed the brand’s response to the incident, 60% viewed the brand’s response positively. A majority of this 60% believes the brand is doing what needs to be done. Two of the answers we received to open-ended questions were, “Most other brands would have carried on without a care, Mars has taken the situation seriously,” and “Though the price of such irresponsibility is heavy, they have taken the right actions.”

When we look at the other assessments of the brand and its response, we saw that only 7% believed that “not enough concern was shown,” and that “the brand should pull its products off the shelves.” Another 6% interpreted the brand’s recall as “looking out for itself.”

Finally, while some consumers believed “the precautions were exaggerated,” while others said, “the response was correct but not sufficient to reestablish confidence.”

These results show that the Mars crisis did not make the headlines, and that it will not cause the kind of loss in the number of consumers that the brand executives should fear. While consumers who reacted negatively to the recall state health and safety concerns as reasons behind their reactions, for many, the fact that the brand recalled the defective products was a move that significantly rebuilt confidence. Going by this, we can say that the brand owning up to the crisis and accepting responsibility was important for the Turkish consumer. Brands that handle the situation with transparency can reestablish trust inside the Turkish market, even during a crisis.

Source: The FutureBright research conducted for Mars Crisis, March 2016

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