Cadbury has given other companies a masterclass in how to respond to upset customers, after chocolate lovers around the country slammed the company’s decision to reduce the size of its 220gm family-size chocolate blocks to tackle increasing production costs.
In a statement posted to the company’s Facebook page this week, Cadbury said it had reached a point where it could no longer continue to absorb “the squeeze of increasing costs” facing confectionery companies around the world.
“We had to make a tough decision: increase the recommended price of Cadbury family blocks, or decrease the size,” Cadbury said.
“We chose to keep Cadbury chocolate affordable for families across Australia and reduce our family blocks by one row. By making this change, Cadbury can continue to support local manufacturing in Australia as we have done for almost a century now.”
But the post has since received almost 5000 comments from disgruntled customers, with many criticising the company’s decision.
“We won’t be able to call it a family block anymore,” one woman wrote.
“We are a family of five and we will be lucky to get three pieces each.”
Cadbury responded to the vast majority of comments, thanking customers for their feedback and reiterating that the company had to make tough decisions in order to keep its products affordable.
Janey Paton, co-director of marketing and communications company Belles and Whistles, told SmartCompany it appears Cadbury has “done all the right things”.
“Perhaps they’ve been watching other brands make changes to the market and therefore were very cautious with their approach here,” Paton says.
“They’ve pre-empted that they may receive backlash from their consumers – I guess chocolate is near and dear to many of our hearts. They have changed their packaging in the past, so perhaps they know what to expect.”
Paton says responding to disgruntled customers individually on social media is a good approach. However, it takes a lot of time and effort that some small businesses simply might not have.
“Responding to everyone on Facebook is a significant commitment because once you start doing that to everyone you need to see it through and that would require resources and staffing,” Paton says.
“I don’t think it is necessarily expected, but good on them for being a big brand and communicating to their consumers who are passionate about their product.”
Paton says it is important for a business of any size to keep an eye on “the big brands” and learn from their mistakes as well as what they are doing well.
“Particularly if they’re in your category but it is also important to look outside the category so you can learn and constantly build on your knowledge,” she says.
“Take a leaf out of their book. Social media is a tricky one because it does open up the lines of communication and gives consumers a direct line to their brand, so you always need to be cautious of that.”
Last month Cadbury came under fire for changing the recipe of its popular Crème Egg product.