Toxic Toys


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Blueview study shows majority of toy recalls are reported around the festive season.

New research shows that, with Christmas just around the corner, brand managers, marketers and CRM specialists need to be prepared to deal effectively with product recalls and guard against lasting damage to their brand. A new study by customer management agency Blueview Group, reveals that over a third (38%) of non-food consumer products recalled are toys and children’s equipment, and there is a significant peak in recalls for products in this category during the December/January months. The report, Recall – the Rising Risk, looks at product recall trends over the last four years and highlights a product risk pre- and post-Christmas.

This trend is largely due to the rise in importation of such products around the festive season, as well as the increase in national checks on typical gift items (toys and decorations for example). Items intended for use by babies and children make up the largest proportion of UK product recalls. This is mainly because consumers, importers and manufacturers are acutely aware of product safety where children are concerned. The Toys Directive 88/378/EEC describes the requirements for safe toys: it covers aspects such as the minimum size of detachable parts, maximum length of any strings or cords, and maximum intensity of light/volume of any sound-or light-producing toy.

The report findings will nevertheless remain a worrying reality for the public, as their consumption of toys and electrical equipment (which makes up 21% of product recalls) is concentrated around the Christmas period.

Key findings from the report also include:-
• Product recalls in the UK have risen steadily since the millennium
• In 2008, there were 14% more recalls than in 2007
• Significant growth in recall activity over 2008 occurred in Foods (49% increase)
• Pharmaceutical recalls also increased 16% year-on-year
• Brand managers face an increasing risk of brand damage through poorly handled product recalls

Darren Ponsford, Strategy and Planning Director of Blueview, comments, “The rise in toys and electrical equipment recalls is a worrying trend for consumers, particularly as the festive period sees the greatest level of recalls reported. Not only are toy makers and retailers dealing with a vulnerable demographic, the festive timing adds to the sensitive nature of this upward trend in children’s toy recalls.

“In order to deal with customer queries and concerns effectively, and mitigate brand damage, toy and children’s equipment companies need to ensure that they have contingency service arrangements in place in the event of a product recall crisis. No worse impression is created, nor brand damage inflicted, than in the situation where a company is uncontactable or unhelpful just when consumer concerns have been escalated.”

Pioneer brands have set up proactive contingency service facilities, so that when a product recall crisis occurs, customers can easily contact the company with their concerns. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that companies that put such contingency facilities in place and then face a product recall have also experienced customers complimenting the company on their handling of the situation.

Ponsford adds, “Concern is rising in various consumer industries that the rate at which contingency facilities are being set up is lagging behind the increasing rate of product recall. The solution for the forward thinking organisation is to invest in contingency planning where emergency contact centre facilities address consumer concerns to effectively handle what can potentially be a difficult and damaging situation for a business.”

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