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Old Recalls Require New Tricks

Recalls have no expiration date. They can be initiated for products that were distributed years – even decades – prior to the discovery of a safety issue. Unlike categories such as food and pharmaceuticals, most durable consumer goods are expected to last a long time.

It’s no surprise that the age of the product is one of the top factors when it comes to response rates. Generally speaking, the older the product, the greater the challenge.

  • Consumers may forget they even own the product until they need it. This is especially true of certain safety products. Unfortunately, that may be the moment they realize it doesn’t work properly.
  • Certain products are often included with another (larger and more expensive) item, making it a passive purchase that won’t be top-of-mind when the recall makes news.
  • Direct notification – the most effective method – is typically not an option for older products. Even if consumers registered the product, they likely haven’t kept the paperwork around, except perhaps in some old files that haven’t been touched in years.
  • Online sales and customer loyalty programs that help track down affected users may not have even existed when the products were originally distributed.
  • The product may have changed hands multiple times.

When unsafe products remain on the market, consumer injury and property damage may continue, keeping the company in the news for all the wrong reasons. But there are methods companies can use to try and overcome these obstacles. Using multiple forms of communication can help reach a larger audience. Some people are voracious consumers of news. Others are more interested in obtaining information through social media. Still others may notice a recall announcement posted in a retail location. Direct notifications are best, but when they aren’t possible, identifying and utilizing every other avenue is second best.

Companies should also consider flexible remedies. Instead of offering only replacements, which may take weeks or even months to produce, a refund may be the best option. Even better – throw in a gift card, an accessory, or a few extra bucks to sweeten the deal and make it worth the consumers’ time. This is especially helpful for small-dollar items and can help boost customer loyalty and reduce risk.

To withstand a recall, companies should brush up on the potential pitfalls that can impact recall effectiveness and the tactics that can help raise response rates, no matter the age of the product.

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