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Consumers Spread Word Of Peanut Butter Recall Online
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Consumers Spread Word Of Peanut Butter Recall Online

As part of Nielsen’s kickoff presentation to the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) research summit, Nielsen Online presented two Brand Association Maps (BAM) illustrating how consumers’ online conversations have affected peanut butter in the wake of a nationwide Salmonella scare. What’s clear in looking at the pre- and post-event BAM maps is that online conversations about peanut butter soured very quickly. Once the first FDA report alerted consumers to salmonella-tainted peanut butter, online buzz tripled in a few short hours. Moreover, discussion was dispersed across the Internet; blogs, Twitter, Google search results and Wikipedia have all impacted the online presence of both peanut butter and the brands associated with the recall.

Note how pockets of negativity cluster around the term “peanut butter” on the post-event BAM. This suggests that the majority of consumers who discussed peanut butter in this time frame repeatedly mentioned the outbreak. Also note the lack of any brand presence on the pre-recall BAM vs. the post-recall. Before the crisis hit, consumers were mentioning peanut butter without a brand connotation or as a generic recipe ingredient; post-outbreak, consumers educate others by mentioning specific brands associated with the recall. Because consumers are spreading the word about the recall, brands need to make sure that the information is accurate and credible. Brand can best control this type of situation by having a defensive branding strategy in place for such events.

Key questions brands need to ask during a crisis:

  • Are we set up internally to address a crisis online?
  • Where online are consumers discussing this crisis and how do we plan on monitoring it?
  • Is our brand/product at fault?
  • Where can we make a difference on the Internet?
  • What needs to be done to react quickly and credibly?

Hear more from Nielsen’s Pete Blackshaw on listening.