Tainted Yogurt: A Case Study


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This was presented to a DePaul University Graduate Corporate Communications class and focused on Chobani's 2013 mold crisis.

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Tainted Yogurt: A Case Study

  1. 1. Overview
  2. 2. History   2005   Purchased an old Kraft manufacturing plant   2007   Placed the first cup on a store shelf in New York   2011   Named best-selling brand of all yogurt in the U.S.   2013   Estimated sales to be approximately $1.3 billion
  3. 3. Greek Yogurt Market
  4. 4. Crisis Timeline Chobani uses the blog to inform about a quality issue National media attention & Chobani publishes details of affected products 8/31  8/20  Complaints begin on social media Mold is identified as Mucor circinelloides 9/6  9/3  9/1  Media stories are about stores pulling product 9/5  Voluntary recall is issued
  5. 5. Crisis Timeline Chobani writes an apology on the blog and details the crisis response strategy FDA received nearly 300 complaints of illness 9/11  Chobani resumes promotional posts on social media 9/25  9/7  Chobani stops posting new content on social media and focuses on replying to customers 9/18  California resident files class action lawsuit for negligence 10/8  9/27  Chobani thanks customers for support
  6. 6. Chobani’s Response
  7. 7. Chobani “voluntarily and proactively removed and replaced the majority of potentially affected products”
  8. 8. SEPTEMBER 3   Products affected by a mold “commonly found in the dairy environment”   Affected less than 5% of product SEPTEMBER 5           Recall brings in the FDA Press release Social media statements Code 16-012 Expiration dates 9/11/13 to 10/7/13
  9. 9. SEPTEMBER 6 “Mold behind Chobani recall poses little threat to consumers” –Chobani “Not considered a foodborne pathogen” –Randy Worobo, Cornell University
  10. 10. SEPTEMBER 11 1)  Updating customers in real time 2)  Bolstering its Customer Loyalty Team 3)  Providing real time social engagement 4)  Supporting retail locations “Nothing is more important to us than  responding to and connec3ng with our  fans—including, and most importantly,  those who have a less than perfect  experience. Every day we set out to do that  a li>le bit be>er.”      –Chobani   SEPTEMBER 27
  11. 11. Customer Reactions   Complaints of hiding information   Customers updated each other
  12. 12. Main Points of Contention 1)  2)  3)  4)  Slow or non-responsive Critical of company reaction Ill customers Disconnect between social media and customer loyalty teams 5)  Invalid coupons
  13. 13. Slow or Non-responsive Company Reaction to Crisis
  14. 14. Ill Customers Disconnect between teams
  15. 15. Invalid Coupons Supportive Customers
  16. 16. Still Unsatisfied
  17. 17. Retailers “A representative for Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional supermarket operator, said Chobani issued a product withdrawal Friday. “It was not a food safety issue,” Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey said in an email.” - AP
  18. 18. Media
  19. 19. Media “Grocery stores in the Treasure Valley have pulled Chobani Greek yogurt from their shelves following what the company is refusing to call a recall” – The Idaho Statesman “Chobani’s recent problem of mold in its yogurts shows the early warning that can come from social media but also the difficulties consumer companies can face in responding quickly enough to satisfy their consumers.” – The Wall Street Journal Media Strategy Messaging: “Health & Safety of Customers” Third Party Endorsement Spokesperson Comments
  20. 20. Page Principles   Tell the Truth   Transparency   Listen to the Customer   Social media staff vs. Customer Loyalty Team   Prove It With Action   Withdrawal & recall   Coupons
  21. 21. Page Principles   Manage for Tomorrow   Previous social media strategy   Third party endorsement   Conduct public relations as if the whole company depends upon it   Media relations and lack of comments   Social media hiatus   Remain calm, patient and good-humored   Messaging and key talking points
  22. 22. Discussion Question What impact will this crisis have on the company moving forward?
  23. 23. Significant Post Crisis Events   Oct. 11, 2013   Chobani & Cornell University announce partnership for food science and dairy innovation   Nov. 12, 2013   PR Week reports the CCO & several PR staff are no longer with the company   November social media complaints