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    Using Influencers to Clean Up Tainted CPG Brands

    Bouncing back from a recall is a two-prong effort

    By Bill Sussman , Collective Bias

    Product recalls and other brand crises can leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths – in more ways than one. There is often a stigma that follows CPG brands in the wake of a recall, and the “mental hurdle” of enjoying particular products once again can be difficult to overcome.

    Bouncing back from a product recall is a two-prong effort for brands – the first of which is the obvious beefed-up safety standards and supply chain procedures, and the second of which is regaining consumer trust. Below, we will look at specific cases of notable brand recalls and explain how influencers can help brands regain customer loyalty by working on campaigns that involve consuming and preparing previously recalled products for their families.

    Renew love for your product through influencer-created recipes.

    If you’ve been living under a rock, 100-plus-year-old Blue Bell Creamery is in the midst of a massive product recall, thanks to a listeria outbreak. The Texas-based company is in the process of signing new contract agreements with health department officials in states affected by the recall, such as Alabama and Oklahoma. This is a big step in the right direction for getting Blue Bell products back on retailers’ shelves. But will consumers be ready and willing to buy them again? They were well-received products at one point, and they can reach that point again.

    But how? Through the power of “foodie” influencers. They are the new celebrity chefs: influencers of the foodie variety gained their followings by consistently producing content that brings food to life through computer and mobile screens. By having influencers integrate Blue Bell ice cream into mouthwatering summer recipes, the products are placed in a context that showcases why they were popular products in the first place. The “mental hurdle” can be easily overcome when consumers view the newly-safe product being used as part of an awesome food creation they could reconstruct for themselves or their loved ones on a hot summer day.

    Bring back fans through social media and blogs.

    Global furniture superstore Ikea is known nearly as much for its Swedish meatballs as it is for its inexpensive, simplistic furniture. In 2013, the company was forced to recall their meatballs from markets and cafeterias across Europe after one batch was discovered to have traces of horse meat. This could have been a major blow to its food unit, which rakes in an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue. When the product was eventually brought back to stores, goodwill surrounding the product could have been restored in a quicker and authentic fashion.

    How so? By reaching out to Ikea fans with great social followings, also known as influencers. Social media and blog influencers have built up audiences over a span of time; they possess an online voice that readers consistently tune in to. Their audiences keep reading their blogs and social media posts because they trust what influencers have to say. Authentic influencers will not endorse products they don’t believe in or don’t use personally, as the foundation of transparency and trust they built their readerships upon would crumble quickly. Harness the capacity of word-of-mouth by handpicking influencers who are already fans of the product. Those influencers will effectively post across their extensive networks about why it is still a quality product post-recall.

    Final note: Product recalls can cause a brand to either sink or swim. Customer loyalty may be in short supply, so brands must reach out to the true sources of social sway: influencers. By tapping into their communities built on trust and approval of opinion, products can certainly return to the status of their heydays.

    Should the occasion arise, will your brand float on?


    By Bill Sussman , Collective Bias
    • About Bill Sussman Bill Sussman is president and CEO of Collective Bias, a shopper social media company that drives sales for brands and retailers by working with a community of expert bloggers who create social content consumers actively seek out and trust. Sussman has deep experience in digital marketing, retail and media industries, and has previously held leadership positions at Nickelodeon, Walmart, Triad Retail Media and Ringling Bros. [email protected]

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