You may have experienced this problem too many times to count.
You head to the supermarket to buy a needed product for a family meal. When you arrive you discover that the product isn’t stocked on the shelf. The pastry rolls that makes your mouth pop. The coffee that wakes up your taste buds to remind you that it’s morning. It’s missing!
Well, not exactly. Customer service informs you the product has been discontinued.
“Are you serious? How can the company do this to me?” You ask.
Taking it a step further, you decide to take your anger out on Facebook
and get surprised when the company responds.
A food company’s response
When customers vent their frustrations about discontinued products through social media, food companies are often quick to respond, offering apologies and suggestions.
When one customer couldn’t find Kraft Fresh Takes, a line featuring a cheese
and breadcrumb mixture used to coat meat before baking, she took to social
media and complained. In response, a Kraft Foods customer service agent
expressed sympathy, and suggested she try another Kraft Food product.
“Sorry to hear you’re upset with our decision to discontinue Fresh Take products,”
the Kraft Foods customer service agent replied via Facebook. “Unfortunately
there weren’t enough consumers buying the product to support our continuing
to sell the line.”
Providing products that please customers
Although food companies often change their product line
(also known as rebranding) faster than a Marvel comic book character can fly,
food companies usually never take something away without giving customers
something in return. Supermarket buyers also look for better ways to serve
customers by giving them the right mix of merchandise. The buyers screen
thousands of products every year, carefully choosing a variety of products
that appeal to a diverse group of shoppers.
Kraft Foods introduced its Fresh Takes Mix line in 2013. Flavors in the line
included Smokey Mesquite BBQ, Italian Parmesan, Southwest Three Cheeses,
Rosemary and Roasted Garlic, Chili Lime and Panko, and Four Cheeses.
Chicken was usually the meat used to help create the meal. While some
Customers talked highly about the product, but others had a different opinion.
Depending on the way the mix was added to the chicken, the chicken either
came out tender and juicy, with a delicate cheese and breadcrumb coating.
Or, the breading was crusty and partially hard by the time the chicken
was well done.
After Kraft Foods discontinued its’ Fresh Takes line October 1, 2014, the
company offered a variety of substitutes for each Fresh Take product on their
website (kraftrecipes.com), so that customers could create
their own version of an amazing meal. By responding to customers on
social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, food companies go the
extra mile to provide unique, on-trend food products and improve
Customer concerns about products matter to food companies
More and more food companies are using social media to communicate with
customers. Customers may not always be satisfied with the substitutions
offered for discontinued products, but the good news is that food companies
may take the time to offer feedback on their concerns.
Communicating with food companies makes you more knowledgeable about
the industry. It’s empowering. It lets companies know you’re interested in
the quality of their products.
Have you ever used social media to express how a product made you feel?