Mars brand perception takes hit but expected to recover after recall

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Foodborne illness Consumer protection

Examples of the recalled products
Examples of the recalled products
Mars’ recall of chocolate for potential Salmonella is unlikely to bring long term damage in the eyes of consumers, according to YouGov.

Around 3,000 bars and bags of Galaxy, Minstrels and Maltesers Teasers were possibly affected by the pathogen from ingredients used in making chocolate.

Products were distributed by Mars Chocolate UK and Mars Ireland and made at a plant in Slough.

The firm said it had received no complaints in connection with the issue.

Impact felt on Mars brand

Galaxy’s Buzz score (whether someone has heard something positive or negative about the brand), decreased from +5 to +1 in the first days following the recall.

Brand tracking data points to the immediate impact on consumer perception the recall may have.

YouGov said the Mars brand also fell by four points despite no bars being affected.

When Mars recalled a variety of chocolate from more than 50 countries early last year due to plastic contamination the brand’s Buzz score fell by 18 points (from +3 to -15).

However, due to the speed of response, the story was quickly forgotten and its score recovered to its former level within weeks.

YouGov said there are signs a similar trend may occur this time.

“On this occasion, Mars has been proactive both in its response, and the steps it has taken to reassure customers. This should ensure that underlying brand perception isn’t unduly troubled by the news.”

The market research firm said such an event does lasting damage when the organisation refuses to acknowledge the problem and fails to take responsibility.

mars and galaxy yougov
Mars recall impact based on YouGov data

Reaction from law firms

Mars Chocolate said it was working with food safety authorities and customers to ensure affected products are no longer available for purchase.

Michelle Victor, partner in Leigh Day’s consumer law and product safety team, said: “Food poisoning can have a serious effect on a person’s health and it is imperative that manufacturers do all they can to ensure their products are safe for consumption.
“It is also critical that once a potential risk is identified that manufacturers work swiftly to alert consumers to the problem, as Mars have done through a voluntary recall of potentially affected products.”

Daxa Patel, medical negligence partner at Simpson Millar LLP, said: “This story will no doubt cause readers anxiety and concern, which is totally understandable. Sadly, we have dealt with cases where food poisoning hasn’t been recognised and treated in a timely manner, leaving the patient with pain and discomfort, which can take time to heal.”

Dawn Rose, of the same law firm, said it was good that Mars’ recall was on a large scale.

“It is incredibly important that companies are transparent about mistakes they have made by broadcasting across all platforms of communication.

“That said it is quite worrying to think that even chocolate isn’t safe from food poisoning such as Salmonella. I think this instance of a recall shows that it is important for consumers to be vigilant and for companies to ensure they are not complacent when it comes to health and safety, no matter what the product.”

Sallie Booth, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said anyone who has bought one of the recalled products should heed health advice and not eat it.

“It’s positive that Mars has chosen to recall its Galaxy products as a precaution, and consumers should feel reassured.

“It’s also important that Mars now launches an investigation into the potential contamination to tighten up safety measures and to reassure its consumers.”

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