retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

No matter what Congress does about pending food safety legislation the more important question always is the same: what do consumer think? According to some recent studies published in the New York Times the answer is: react and then forget…provided industry shows clear signs of action.

The Times ran some data tracking sales of products impacted by a well-publicized recall and found that shoppers return to normal buying and eating habits rather quickly, especially if the product is a staple in their kitchens. According to the research by the Food Policy Institute, it took only a few weeks for shoppers to return to normal buying patterns for peanut butter or eggs after their recalls. Spinach, which is not as widely consumed, didn’t return to normal patterns for more than a year.

Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics has a great background for understanding these patterns. Roerink ran research for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) during one period of heavy product recalls and prior to that worked with the travel industry during and after the 9/11 attacks. The consumer response to the deadly terrorist attacks gave her insights on why confidence manages to rebound. “Right after the 9/11 attacks, confidence plummeted to an all time low. But with very visible measures in place and clear steps taken on behalf of the airlines and government, confidence in the safety of flying rebounded almost completely within three months.,” she said.

The bottom line: they will forgive and forget provided they need the product. But it’s also important for the industry to show it takes the problem seriously and is doing what it can to protect the public. That’s no small step, but it is essential.

And that’s our Tuesday Eye-Opener.
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