Crisis Communications: Made in China

The wave of Chinese-made product recalls, including those of toxic pet food and faulty or lead-contaminated toys, may spell trouble for consumer packaged goods companies worldwide.

According to an extensive investigation into blog responses to product defects conducted by Umbria (a blog analyst of consumer insights), negative sentiment toward Chinese products has created a spillover of mistrust of other foreign products, as well as American-manufactured goods.

Here are some other key insights from the study:
  • Blog conversations about where products are manufactured jumped from 241 to 865 a week after the Mattel toy recall;
  • Males blog more about product origins than females (63% to 37%), and tend to form quality judgments based on origin;
  • Awareness that even domestically made products contain foreign components contributes to distrust;
  • Consumer packaged goods that related to ingestion (toy parts, for example) caused greater concern than other types of products;
  • Consumers hold the government most accountable for the quality of imported goods, with manufacturers coming second; and,
  • Toys, food and beverage, and apparel were the top industries referenced.

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