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Perrier

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What happened to the famous Perrier brand

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Perrier

  1. 1. BRANDING 101: If you give your product a French name, you can charge way more for it.. BRANDING 101:
  2. 2. PERRIER story • Perrier is a natural sparkling mineral water that is well known throughout the world, famous for its elegantly-shaped green bottle • In 1898, Dr. Louis Perrier became the owner of the spring, which would later take his illustrious name • In 1907, soon after the business was founded, the sparkling water in the now-familiar green-tilted bottles was already a high-priced item – “the champagne of bottled waters” – selling at nearly $1.00 and available only in gourmet and specialty food shops throughout the United States • Advertisers drew on the legendary past of the Perrier source, which dates back to the first century’s Roman times. Promoters also banked on the appeal of natural carbonation “from the center of the Earth” • Within a short period, Perrier became the leading brand
  3. 3. Trendy drink • From 1980 to 1989, the bottled water industry as a whole, and the Perrier brand in particular, enjoyed annual double-digit growth – from an $80 million industry to one worth some $2,5 billion • Perrier was no longer just a bottle of water. The marketing teams had established a crucial emotional link between the product and the consumers. • "Perrier became a badge," says Michael Bellas, chairman of the Beverage Marketing Corporation • "When you held a Perrier bottle up, it said something about yourself, it said you were sophisticated, you… understood what was happening in the world. • "It was a perfect beverage for the young up and coming business executives, the trend-setters."
  4. 4. Trendy drink
  5. 5. Perrier Scandal • In February 1990, a group of scientists working in the laboratory at the Mecklenberg County Environmental Protection Department in North Carolina was using small supply of Perrier as a testing control for other substances being tested for hazardous chemicals and other impurities. Scientists discovered traces of benzene – an industrial solvent and suspected carcinogen – in the Perrier itself • The company claimed that the contamination was an isolated incident, caused by an operator error at an American filling plant. But Perrier's hopes were dashed when it emerged that benzene was also present in its bottled water in Europe. Source Perrier had to face the anger of European consumers who were faced with the fact that they had been drinking contaminated water for several months. Highly embarrassed, the firm recalled products worldwide. The media savagely criticised the company, saying they had shown a shocking disregard for consumer safety • Within days Perrier Group of America announced a recall from the entire North American market 72 million bottles, totally worldwide – 160 million bottles
  6. 6. Perrier Scandal • When the media first found out about the problem Perrier did not know what to do. For a brand whose whole identity was based around the idea of ‘natural purity’, the benzene incident was clearly a disaster. • Although the recall had been announced straightaway, Perrier’s information vacuum started to provoke even more consumer anxiety than there would have been otherwise. • Furthermore, although the company set up a 24-hour hotline in the UK, Perrier refused to see it as a global issue. This was a mistake. As Alex Brummer commentated in the Guardian newspaper: ‘all politics may be local, but brands are global.’ There was a lack of a coherent and consistent response from Perrier subsidiaries, and no lead or co-ordination from the French parent company Source Perrier. Mixed messages were being given, with contradictory and conflicting statements emerging from different divisions of the company. In some cases, the media was even given incorrect information. • Some media found out that Perrier authorities tried to hide the real scales of the problem • Perrier therefore made a bad situation worse and failed to tackle the global implications of the crisis.
  7. 7. Perrier 2.0 Of course, the Perrier brand is still fizzing away. Indeed, when Perrier returned to the shelves it was accompanied by the successful ‘Eau! Perrier’ advertising campaign. However, Groupe Perrier was taken over by Nestlé in 1992, and the brand has still not been able to regain its pre-1990 volume share.
  8. 8. Lessons from Perrier • Don’t hide the truth. ‘Managing news in crisis, not just wars, is not about trying to suppress bad news – that will lose your credibility,’ says Martin Langford, managing director of Burson-Marsteller’s corporate and public affairs practice. ‘Consumers and journalists are far too smart. You’ve got to be dead straight with the media because your employees will be if you’re not.’ • Don’t breach the consumer’s trust. A brand has been defined as the capitalized value of the trust between a consumer and a company. Breach that trust, and the brand is in trouble. • Accept that global brands need coherent communications policies. A global brand such as Perrier cannot ignore the fact that problems in the United States will be able to impact on sales in Europe. Such a brand needs a common purpose throughout the organization, so the response to a crisis can be co-ordinated. • Recognize that some brands’ crises are worse than others. The benzene contamination was the worst possible crisis to afflict a brand associated with natural purity.

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