How do product recalls impact brands in health and personal care industries?
October 3rd, 2023, Janice Fernandes

How do product recalls impact brands in health and personal care industries?

A 2023 report from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) states that the number of medicines recalled by manufacturers due to defects has increased by 153% in the UK since 2017. Product recalls aren’t unique to health industry though and are also reported in other industries like cosmetics and personal care products. So much so that retailers like Boots are making sure consumers are aware of which products have been recalled.

So how do these recalls influence brand loyalty, particularly in health and pharma and personal care categories?

A recent YouGov survey reveals that a significant portion of British consumers (41%) still exhibit brand loyalty when it comes to packaged foods and beverages. Two-fifths of consumers would also be likely to purchase again from a mobile phone brand that experienced a product recall (39%).

Around three tenths of British consumers (31%) say they are likely to purchase from the same cosmetic and personal care brand if a product they had purchased in the past had been recalled. The share drops to a quarter of consumers (25%) with respect to recalled medicine or medical products.

However, this loyalty isn't universal. Around a third of consumers (34%) express reluctance to purchase from the same cosmetic or personal care manufacturer after experiencing a recall. The reluctance is most prominent when it comes to medicine and medical products (49%).

This data shows the extent of the impact that recalls can have on consumer trust especially with medicines or medical products.

What are the factors driving people away from repurchasing medicines or medical products and cosmetics from the same manufacturer?

Among Britons who say they wouldn’t buy from a brand that has undergone a recall, concerns over safety and quality are the biggest deterrent. Nearly half of consumers cite this as their primary concern with respect to cosmetics (48%) and medical products (47%), respectively.

Around a quarter of the consumers (25%) would be less likely to purchase medicines or medical products from the same manufacturer because of loss of trust in the brand. An equal proportion of consumers say the same about cosmetic or personal care brands (25%).

Personal experience with a faulty product ranks third, but at a significantly lower rate (9% for both categories).

A brand’s handling of the recall (5% cosmetics; 6% medicine) and past experiences with the brand (4% each) are the other reasons why consumers would be less likely to repurchase from the company.

Negative reviews or media coverage have a relatively minimal impact with only around one in 30 saying it’s the main reason to influence their purchasing habits (3% each).

It's worth noting, however, that not all feedback is negative. Despite the reservations many hold about buying from a brand post-recall, nearly two-fifths of those who are unlikely to repurchase from the same pharmaceutical company (39%) still believe manufacturers generally handle product recalls responsibly and transparently. Whereas 36% of consumers share the same sentiment about cosmetic and personal care brands. This suggests a general level of confidence in how companies manage recalls.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on August 24-25, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2,115 adults in Great Britain (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and region to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Image: Getty Images