Social Media Has Impact On Recalls

Significant changes to the way in which consumers will be informed of product recalls have been foreshadowed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

"In a major report, the Review of the Australian product safety recall system, the ACCC analysed the effectiveness of the current recall system," ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell said. "The report gives a blueprint for changes to the recalls system, particularly about how consumers are alerted to recalls, with the aim of increasing awareness and recall response rates…I am particularly excited about the use of social media to tell consumers about product recalls. There is a real need for suppliers to implement tailored communications strategies in the event of a recall. The days of relying just on newspaper advertisements as the major method of communication are past."

Highlighting the importance of utilising new communication methods, the ACCC has taken a leaf out of its own book to announce the release of this report.

It has:

  • sent 'tweets' on a newly established Twitter account: @productsafetyAU
  • blogged on a range of relevant sites
  • developed a new recall 'widget' which will be trialled on a range of relevant websites shortly
  • and directly emailed hundreds of industry associations and stakeholders

The new Product Safety Recalls Australia website, http://www.recalls.gov.au, also allows consumers and businesses to sign up for electronic recall alerts about the types of products of most interest to them, such as children's products.

Other steps the ACCC is taking to improve recall effectiveness includes encouraging suppliers to place tracking labels on their products to enable the product to be easily traced as it moves through the supply chain and into the hands of consumers. Suppliers will also be encouraged to use online warranty cards and registration systems and make greater use of loyalty card data to identify consumers who bought products which were later recalled.

The report also flags that the ACCC will not accept that a recall is finalised until the cause of the problem is identified and measures are put in place to ensure that it does not recur. Many of the measures to improve the effectiveness of the recall system will be reflected in new recall guidelines for suppliers.

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