The Schweppes saga captivated consumers across the country. What began as a quiet change to the product ingredients with no advance warning, evolved into a social media crisis. This crisis was surrounding the change in flavour, as well as suspicions that the artificial sweetener used in the new Mazoe is detrimental to health. The result? The brand had to take a step backwards. Sschweppes announced it would be reintroducing the original Mazoe drink onto the market alongside the newer, low-sugar version.
There are 3 lessons for any organisation to learn from this case at Schweppes:
1. Always keep your customers in the loop.
In Zimbabwe, over the years, many brands have neglected to manage their reputations. This is because it has seemed that customers will inevitably purchase a brand due to lack of choice. Social media has allowed consumers to have a voice that can gain significant traction- as it did in this case. As the market begins to open up there will be more products to choose from. In short: never take your customer for granted. If your brand is changing your product, be sure to precede this change with extensive research and communication. Not every customer will like every change, but don’t expect customers who love your product to appreciate being kept in the dark.
2. Consumer education is key.
If you are introducing an aspect to your product that is unfamiliar to the market, be prepared to carry out the necessary prior customer education. Above all, this minimises panic. In Schweppes’ case, in addition to complaints about the change in taste of the product, there were fears concerning the safety of the sweetener aspartame. Prior to introducing the revamped product, engage your customers. Help them understand the change and what it means for them. If your brand does not lead the conversation, consumers will take the matter into their own hands. This leaves your brand at the mercy of their speculations.
Should you have to reverse a decision, be gracious.
As a result of customer feedback, should your brand be pushed to reverse the change to its product, be careful of how you communicate the reversal to your customers. The customer must feel that their needs come first, not that you are begrudgingly reversing the decision. Avoid appearing as though you feel that you are doing them a favour. Help your customers to feel that you are responsive to their needs and that you value their decision to stick with your brand.
Stephanie Taderera is a Content Executive at Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants. For more information and business enquiries, contact us today.