Those searching arrived at â€œCadbury product recall needs two-way dialogue,â€ a post I wrote in June 2006 regarding the salmonella contamination scare in the UK confronting Cadbury at that time that led the chocolate maker to recall thousands of its products from store shelves.
Looking at the stats a bit closer, I see that the majority of searchers are in the US. Not unexpected from a geographical point of view. But I also notice a large number from countries in South-East Asia, notably Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and (curiously to me) Vietnam.
Why are people searching today for Cadburyâ€™s recalled productsâ€™?
It must surely coincide with news today that Cadbury is recalling eleven of its chocolate brands from certain Asian markets because the products concerned, manufactured in China, allegedly contain melamine, a chemical substance used in plastics manufacture.
Melamine is at the heart of the contaminated milk scandal in China which has so far led to over 50,000 Chinese children being hospitalized with poisoning.
Youâ€™ve probably seen news reporting about this scandal during the past week. It hasnâ€™t spread beyond China but as news travels fast, it clearly is of concern to consumers in other countries in that part of the world â€“ and it looks like people in countries further afield are now becoming concerned.
In todayâ€™s FIR #384 podcast, our correspondent in Singapore, Michael Netzley, reports on what the owners of a number of well-known consumer brands are doing in his part of the world in their attempts to reassure consumers that their products are safe.
In most cases, the brand owners are placing prominent ads in local newspapers in Singapore in tandem with government assurances that such products are safe.
Whether that will be enough to persuade consumers that itâ€™s safe to purchase and eat these milk-based products â€“ all manufactured in China â€“ is pretty doubtful.
Weâ€™re talking about peopleâ€™s perceptions, what theyâ€™re seeing on the news, and 50,000 ill children. This is about emotion, not logic, and word of mouth.
And what about China itself? What impact will this situation have on other, related, perceptions – from manufacturers – that establishing a significant part of your supply chain in China is too risky a venture?
The real crisis test is likely to be when (not if) word of mouth about brands and how trusted people regard them travels to major markets in the US and Europe.
I hope that all of these companies have crisis communication plans well in hand for eventualities such as this.