Business development · 29 September 2016

Rushed to market product recall disasters – slow and steady wins the race


Product recalls damage businesses' reputations
A Product recall damages a company’s reputation

It has recently been reported that there is a “replication crisis” in science, meaning that many so-called facts are merely statistical anomalies published before proven to be legitimate.

According to the Guardian, well-known experiments have failed to stand up to further testing. Smiling makes you happy, striking a superman pose makes you more confident, eyes drawn on the wall help prevent theft – all these observations have turned out to have very little weight behind them.

Cognitive scientist Paul Smaldino has blamed the culture of the scientific community where outlandish and exciting results published in prestigious journals are highly rewarded without with being properly vetted.

Many false positive results stem from experiments using too small a sample size to be able to draw reliable conclusions. In the long run, we are left unable to decipher the good science from the bad science – which headlines presented to us as scientific fact can we actually believe?

Unfortunately, it is now the case that many people will be dubious about new findings as it’s difficult to know which ones can be trusted. The reports are effectively “rushed to market” – something some businesses know all too well can be damaging to reputations.

Take Samsung’s recently launched Note 7. Dozens of the handsets have exploded, prompting a global product recall. According to The Telegraph, one Note 7 owner even blamed the device for his Jeep catching fire when it was left to charge inside the vehicle.

In a statement, Samsung said: “To date (as of 1 September) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note 7…

“We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers. We are working closely with our partners to ensure the replacement experience is as convenient and efficient as possible.”

As you would expect, the global product recall has been something of a PR nightmare, with images of destroyed handsets, jokes and memes flooding social media:

Of course, there are also reports that the Note 7 was rushed to market in a bid to compete with the iPhone 7. If that is indeed the case, it has certainly backfired spectacularly.

The lesson for businesses here is that slow and steady wins the race. Never rush a product or service to market without first ensuring that it does what it is supposed to do and is safe for consumers to use – otherwise the risk of damaging your reputation through a product recall is very real.

If you are unsure whether or not a product is ready for launch, take a look at this checklist:

  • Is the product safe? Has it been thoroughly tested?
  • Does it work? Does it meet all the claims made about it?
  • Have you done the necessary market research? Is there an audience for your offering?
  • Have you found the optimum price point? Avoid pricing yourself out of the market, or selling yourself short!
  • Have you educated your staff on the product, and how to sell it?
  • Have you got enough stock? Running out of stock soon after launch would be annoying for your customers.

Lastly, just because you have done all the necessary research and you are happy that your product is ready for market does not mean it’s perfect. Tweak your product going forward – strive for perfection to win over your customers.

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Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.


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