Winning brands work tirelessly to develop innovative products that satisfy consumers’ ever changing wants and needs. Of course, these brands also strive to develop products that are safe for consumers to use. In addition to their own safety and quality standards, brands -- especially those that manufacture consumer packaged goods -- must abide by rules and regulations developed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some of these regulations govern how CPG brands must handle negative feedback about their products -- including feedback in product reviews.
How Positive and Negative Reviews Benefit Businesses
In the past, if a consumer had a good or bad experience with a product, she’d share her opinion with her family and friends. But increasingly, consumers are using reviews as a way to share their feedback. Our friends at PowerReviews found that in 2018, 50% of consumers had written a review about a product they purchased within the last 12 months, compared to 42% in 2014.
Product reviews help consumers make better purchase decisions, and they also provide brands and retailers with a wealth of valuable insights that can help them better serve their customers. Obviously, positive reviews help brands understand what features consumers love, which can help them more effectively market the product. For example, let’s say there’s a beauty brand that manufactures a facial lotion. A lot of reviewers mention they like the smooth consistency of the lotion. Currently, the product page only has images of the lotion bottle, so the brand adds an image that better shows off the consistency of the lotion. They might even add a video of someone applying the lotion to their skin.
Although companies never want to receive a negative review, this content provides valuable insights, too. Negative reviews can help a brand identify ways to improve their products, product descriptions and the overall experience customers have with the company. What’s more, responding to negative reviews provides the brand with opportunities to correct issues and build relationships with customers by showing them their feedback is important.
When Negative CPG Reviews are More Than a Matter of Opinion
It’s important for all companies to keep a close eye on their product reviews. But consumer CPG brands must be much more diligent about managing reviews -- especially the negative ones.
In most cases, a negative review for a packaged good simply reflects the taste and preferences of the consumer. For example, this reviewer indicates he doesn’t like the taste of a gummy vitamin. The brand can acknowledge the review to show the consumer his opinion is important, perhaps suggest an alternative product and move on.
However, there are cases when a negative review for a consumer good can actually point to a larger issue that didn’t appear during product testing and may require further investigation. For example, this reviewer indicates that after using a health and beauty product, he developed a pretty serious sounding rash. If he’s experiencing these issues, there’s a chance others are, too.
What FDA Regulations Mean for CPG Product Reviews
Food, drug, cosmetic and other packaged goods brands work hard to ensure their products are safe for consumers. Besides having their own quality and testing standards in place, these companies must also abide by rules and regulations developed by the FDA.
The FDA has regulations in place that specifically govern how drug companies must handle product complaints, including those that are part of product reviews. There are a few things drug companies must do in order to comply:
1. Drug companies must have a written procedure for handling complaints.
It’s impossible to anticipate every product complaint, but it’s important to be as prepared as possible. According to the FDA, CPG companies that manufacture drugs must have written procedures in place that detail what will happen if they receive a complaint about one of their products. This process must outline how complaints are investigated and the steps the company will take to determine if the complaint represents a “serious and unexpected adverse drug experience” which needs to be reported to the FDA.2. Drug companies must keep written records of complaints.
CPG companies that manufacture drug products must keep written records of all complaints -- including those in product reviews. The record must include:
- Details of the complaint, including the product, product strength, lot number and the name of the person who wrote the review
- Any responses to the complaint
- Findings from any investigations (or justification for why there was no further investigation)
Companies are required to retain complaint records for at least one year after the expiration date of the drug or one year after the date of the complaint -- whichever is longer.
How CPG Brands Can Simplify Review Management
There’s no question that abiding by the FDA’s regulations keeps CPG companies compliant while also ensuring consumer safety. When it comes to reviews, it seems simple enough to stay compliant. Step 1: Have a process in place for handling complaints in reviews. Step 2: Appropriately investigate complaints. Step 3: Keep records of complaints. Easy, right? Not always.
In order to properly log and investigate customer complaints submitted through reviews, companies must take an honest look at their existing review management process (or lack thereof) and identify ways to simplify, streamline and automate, when possible. Otherwise, it’s easy for negative reviews to slip through the cracks, leaving companies (and consumers) at risk.
Most CPG brands sell their products through a number of different channels. For example, a cosmetics brand may sell a particular lipstick directly to the consumer via their own eCommerce site, through a network of retail partners (both online and in-store) and on Amazon. After a customer purchases the lipstick, she could write a review on any website that sells the product.
Reading through reviews written on a dozen websites on a regular basis can be tedious, time consuming and, quite simply, impractical. This is especially true for companies that manage multiple brands and those brands sell hundreds of different products. That’s not to mention the time companies must spend prioritizing and reprioritizing which reviews must be addressed first, then routing them to the appropriate teams to handle. With a manual review management process like this, there’s a lot of room for error.
Increasingly, brands are turning to review management software like Reputation Studio to simplify and streamline the review management process. For starters, review management software consolidates all of a brand’s reviews into a single platform. That means a brand can review, route and engage with reviews written on a number of different websites -- all from one platform. This not only saves time, but helps ensure no critical reviews are missed.
Appropriately prioritizing and routing reviews can be challenging, too. But review management software makes it easy for brands to act quickly on the most urgent issues. A brand can create a list of negative keywords. For example, a skincare brand may include words like “rash” and “pain.” Any time a review is submitted with one of these words, it’s automatically escalated to the appropriate team to address. This allows brands to quickly identify and address any reviews that may point to a larger problem, which helps them keep their customers (and their reputations) safe.
Manage Your Online Reviews with Reputation Studio
Reviews -- both positive and negative -- are full of insights that can help brands and retailers improve their products and the customer experience. It’s important for all brands and retailers to effectively manage their reviews, but it’s especially critical for CPG companies. There’s a lot at stake, as these products often go in and on people’s bodies. Effective review management helps ensure CPG keep their customers and their reputations safe.
Curious to see how Reputation Studio can help you improve review management? Schedule a demo today.