Consumers concerned about product recalls

by Staff
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about food safety and instances of food recalls in the United States, according to a Harris Poll survey of 2,563 adults conducted in April by Harris Interactive, a market research firm.

Specifically, 79% of adults are aware of the occurrence of food recalls in the United States, and 86% of consumers mentioned concern about the incidents of recalls from manufacturers and suppliers of food and pet food products. Additionally, 3 in 10 consumers said such recalls are a serious concern to them.

Fifty-five per cent of consumers said if a brand they generally purchase issues a recall or has a safety concern, they would at least temporarily switch to another brand, and 15% said they would switch permanently to another brand. This indicates consumer trust is not static and when trust is earned it has to be continually reinforced or it may erode.

The study also showed consumers have differing levels of familiarity with recent product recalls. Only 20% of those surveyed said they were familiar with the recall of chicken in February due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Even of those familiar, only 2% named the correct brand involved. On the other hand, 71% of consumers said they were familiar with the peanut butter recall, which also happened in February, and 46% were able to correctly identify the brands involved.

Harris recommends that when a product is recalled, brands don’t need to respond in panic, but instead market with an urgent yet measured response.

"Too often, particularly in crisis situations, corporations respond only to the actual events and subsequent claims and comments by the media and other parties," said Mike Dabadie, division president of brand and strategy consulting. "In contrast, brand and reputation management is a proactive, benefit driven strategy that focuses on and communicates a company’s core strengths."

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