Japanese cosmetics company Kanebo is now facing the unenviable task of rebuilding its company reputation and brand image after their skin whitening products caused uneven skin coloring on their consumers, prompting a massive recall encompassing Japan, Britain and 10 other Asian markets. Public relations experts share it is not as easy as just saying sorry and doing a recall.
Experts say the main action point to a problem like this is to face the issues head-on and act quickly and surely. On this aspect, Japan’s second largest cosmetics firm has already lost points as reports are coming out that they did not act immediately when doctors suspected a link between their patients suffering from skin blotches and their use of Kanebo whitening products like Blanchir Superior and Sensai. Hideki Nakagome, a lawyer who is handling the probe into the incident, said the company officials were “obsessed with the idea that the skin discoloration was a disease”. Months after the initial complaints, they finally decided to initiate the recall but by then millions of products were already in the market and thousands of customers had already been affected.
Kanebo President Masumi Natsusaka last week made a public apology over the incident and vowed the company will take responsibility over what happened, including paying the medical bills of those affected and their top executives taking a paycut for a period of time. He also promised to overhaul the company’s safety controls to ensure this will never happen again.
Daniel Fath, vice president of Tokyo-based Total Communications System, said that broadcasting information is not enough. The company needs to initiate two-way communication between them and all stakeholder groups, which includes the customers. Rachel Catanach, senior partner and managing director at FleishmanHillard Hong Kong said that using social media to communicate is also important, especially as a situation like this will have a long-term impact on the company. “Every minute that goes by without an effective crisis response exponentially increases the risk to a company’s reputation,” she adds.
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan