How to make the process of product recalls less painful

Paul Goad, founder at dynamic marketing company Crimtan, believes that, when it comes to the tricky business of product recalls, the electronics sector isn’t making the best use of the data available to it.

The average success of an electrical product recall in the UK is just 10-20%, according to safety experts. This means that there are probably millions of potentially dangerous recalled electrical items still in UK homes.

Just recently, Sony announced that Panasonic lithium-ion battery packs installed in 18 models of Sony’s VAIO Series laptop computers can overheat, causing burn and fire hazards. While last year, large air-vented dryers and condensing dryers under the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands made headlines after manufacturers admitted they were dangerous. But has anyone taken action?

As most of these types of electrical products are recalled because they offer a risk of electric shock or electrical fire, they present a serious risk and it’s vital that consumers are made aware.

Recently, consumer group Which? said nearly 12,000 fires in the past three years in Britain had been the fault of defective white goods and kitchen equipment.

However, the issue of ensuring every customer sees the product recall announcements can be incredibly complex.

While an independent review of UK consumer product recall, carried out by Lynn Faulds Wood earlier this year recommends a national product safety agency and centralised online list of all recalls, brands are still having to rely on a certain degree of luck to allow them to reach their customer base.

However, it doesn’t need to be this way. Electronic manufacturers and retailers have the necessary data – they just need to better understand how it can be utilised.

To address the recall challenge, brands need to start with multiple data sources for more accurate user targeting.

Data sources such as warranty registers and finance details plus advanced postcode targeting should be mixed with real-time data, retargeting people who have visited sections of a retailer’s website or used a particular keyword search relating to information about the brand or recall.

From registered addresses and postcode data, localised geo-targeting can be optimised so that areas with a high probability of someone owning an affected fridge, washing machine or other electrical appliance can be reached with greater accuracy using targeted advertisements delivered across different digital touch-points.

Ownership data points such as brand, model, age of appliance, in-store registrations and online purchasing information should be optimised and used for better targeting.

The efficiency of reaching users via this data can be increased by overlaying other targeting parameters such as lifestyle, age, gender and socio-economic information.

This can be further enhanced via social media sites, according to defined views of owner interests and what they share online.

Once all these data points have been established and optimised, electronic brands then need the right creative to ensure their message not only stands out but collects more valuable data in the process.

Examples of digital creative which may allow a brand to apologise, capture further data and then reward consumer loyalty could include an interactive recall checker. This would ask for the make, model or serial number, and could then be followed up by a competition mechanic retargeted to affected owners.

As many brands across all industry sectors have discovered to their cost, the most important element of any recall or issue affecting the safety or performance of a product is trust.

If the consumer feels they’ve been communicated with in an open and honest way, there’s less chance of erosion in brand trust.

These first steps to implementing a recall marketing strategy are therefore essential and require effective and targeted use of multiple data sources, good creative and an overall campaign monitoring programme.

Get it right and consumers are more likely to forgive a brand its mistakes. Get it wrong and it could
impact your business for years to come.

This article first appeared in Get Connected magazine