In 2009, Peanut Corp. of America lost $1 billion, went bankrupt and closed up its business. All these happened because a batch of their peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella. As a result, 9 people died and hundreds more fell sick after consuming their peanut butter.
In a similar incident, Pfizer had to pull its bestselling arthritis painkiller Bextra from the market in 2005, because of “possible heart risks and life-threatening skin reactions”. The entire debacle cost them over $3 billion. The company is still thriving and has grown to become one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.
Unfortunately, there are many more instances of extreme allergies and adverse reactions costing companies a ton of money to fix. However, it is possible that if the internet had been as review-driven then as it is today, maybe the aforementioned physical harm and losses would have been avoided, as the firms could have issued an immediate product recall after the first few people started reporting allergic reactions.
Or better still, they could have “beta-tested” these products on a slightly larger scale, gauged the response via reviews, and avoided all the problems. Truth is adverse reactions and allergies to consumables are pretty common and even expected.
In fact, every year, the FDA receives hundreds of thousands of adverse event reports every year. Thing is, it can take a while for them to collate all that data, and tag the dangerous products accordingly.
However, with online reviews, it’s easier to collate the data faster, and swoop in and prevent widespread harm. And if you have to recall products, you can do it quickly and silently –the FDA states that not all product recalls are announced in the media– and re-release after the problem is fixed.
The Dual Nature of Online Reviews
Online reviews are like a double-edged sword. They can be both good and bad for your business. If you have a great product or service, you’ll enjoy more positive than negative reviews –plus a healthy bottom line. But if your products aren’t great, and lots of people get to suffer allergic reactions, you bet you’ll get a ton of bad reviews –a situation that can ruin your business.
And because they’re an excellent source of unbiased and objective information, as much as 90 percent of consumers depend on them to make their buying decisions. This is why business owners, eCommerce store founders, local businesses and drug and cosmetic companies pay attention to them.
These reviews are easy to understand -unlike clinical trials and experiments- and people can decide if they want your products or not because of them.
So, apart from the fact that you need to make sure that your products are thoroughly tested for possible allergies and side effects (and include that information in your label and ads) before rolling them out, you need to actively monitor what people are saying about these adverse reactions.
This is important because sometimes, companies –particularly small and medium-sized consumables brands- don’t have the budget for thorough and rigorous R&D (although, you shouldn’t be making consumables and topical products if you don’t have the budget for intensive testing).
This is even more crucial if you’re releasing a new consumable or topical product into the market. Extreme allergies or adverse reactions will not only result in massive product recalls costing you a fortune in the process, but it can also cause physical harm to consumers. Don’t let this happen to you. Take advantage of online reviews.
How to Handle and Monitor Adverse Effects Through Reviews
Set up Alerts on the Search Engines
Every day, millions of products are discussed in online forums, message boards, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Quora, Yelp, Google and many more. And many of these people are asking questions about possible allergies.
You need to set up an alert for all products and related keywords so that you can get instant notifications of any product mentions on the search engines. To set up alerts on Google, just go to
, and follow the prompts. It’s that easy.
Monitor Your Product Reviews
If you’re selling your products on a standalone eCommerce site, Amazon store, or Shopify store, you need to pay serious attention to your reviews. We recommend instant notifications, particularly for new products. This way, you can quickly resolve any allergy-related negative reviews triggered by adverse reactions in real-time.
Established products with a history of good results and little or no unknown allergic reactions for users can have their reviews checked once a day –although we don’t recommend that as all reviews are equally important.
Tools like Reputation Studio make review monitoring a breeze though. You can have it set up so that it automatically routes and prioritizes reviews so you know which one is high urgency/high importance.
Ascertain Fake Negative Reviews
If you’re launching a great product in a highly competitive niche (food, nutrition, health, beauty, and skincare), chances are some of your competitors are going to play dirty and flood your listings with negative reviews.
These reviews will mostly try to highlight possible allergies and side effects. These are just targeted smear campaigns planted by people with malicious intent. And you need to be able to immediately tackle those. However, you also need to be able to tell if they’re genuine reviews.
And the best way to do this is to simply ask them for proof –they can either upload pictures/videos with that exact same date or send it to you privately. Don’t react or call them out –there’s no need for that.
Most malicious entities will just go away if you do these things. And the best part is it’ll portray your brand in good light -as one that cares for its customers. Also, remember to remind other customers and reviewers to only focus on those reviews with a “verified purchase” tag beside their monikers.
The good thing is most customers are savvy and pay attention to that. But still, it’s worth mentioning.
Pay Attention to Unexpected Allergies or Side Effects
And address them immediately. Engage with and investigate specific cases (this only works for a few cases). If it’s more, you may need more drastic measures such as issuing a press release and pulling the products from the marketplace (but that should be the last possible option).
This rarely happens though. Remind the customers about possible allergies and side effects. This is more effective when you have already listed them on your product.
Need Help with all These?
We can help. Reputation Studio’s AI-powered enterprise reputation management system helps quickly spot negative reviews, aggregates customer sentiment and intent, and helps you jump in front of potentially damaging reviews in real-time so you can manage the situation. This is the tool you need if you want to easily manage those cumbersome review processes.
Get in touch with us to schedule a demo today.