The Honest Company, an eco-friendly health products manufacturer founded by actress Jessica Alba, has just been valued at $1 billion. Yet the Honest brand has hit headlines after an inflood of complaints that its sunscreen is causing burns.
The Honest Company has spent four years building itself a reputation for non-toxic products so how they react in the wake of this news is critical to protect its lasting image.
So far the company has released statement to People Magazine stating:
The Honest Company is committed to providing safe and effective products, and we take all consumer feedback very seriously.
Our Sunscreen Lotion was tested, by an independent 3rd party, against the protocols prescribed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) monograph for over-the-counter sunscreen products. The results showed that our product is effective and safe for use as an 80 minute water-resistant (FDA’s highest rating), SPF 30 sunscreen lotion in accordance with FDA regulations when used as directed (Shake Well. Apply liberally and evenly 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying and at least every 2 hours).
The number of complaints received on our own website about our Sunscreen Lotion constitute less than one half of one percent of all units actually sold at honest.com.
Understandably, this statement has offered little comfort to its customers. Particularly when the last sentence comes across as condescending and dismissive to those affected, whilst trying to minimise the apparent scope of the problem.
The Honest Company has fallen into a public relations crisis. They may be reluctant to issue a public apology or accept blame to prevent legal liabilities, but the company’s brand will suffer if they fail to address the issue properly.
So what should The Honest Company do to protect its brand?
Instead of responding to select media, the company should release another statement on its website acknowledging the seriousness of the issue and reassuring customers that the product will be reviewed.
The company should leave itself room to find out why the sunscreen isn’t working for some of its customers; whether it be a manufacturing issue or batch defect.
As of writing this article The Honest Company has yet to issue a statement on their website’s press page about their sunscreen.
Empathise with their customers
Even though the company may be hesitant to admit guilt, they can still express concern towards its customers who are experiencing burns from reportedly using their product.
Actively engaging with these customers, whether it be through a dedicated email account, a Twitter hashtag or by setting up a hotline, it’s important that the company allows customers an avenue to complain and seek guidance and refunds.
Not only will this help to determine a more accurate scope of the problem, but it puts the brand in control to defuse any further negative press.
Provide a solution
The Honest Company can’t reverse the burns reportedly suffered by some of its customers, nor can it rewrite the associated negative press. What it can do, however, is take charge of the situation and direct the negative energy into a solution.
They can do this by offering any customers who complain a free sample or coupon for products to help relieve their sunburn. This presents a unique opportunity for the company to also collect the details of these customers and rework an e-marketing strategy to rebuild these relationships.
No company wants negative press, particularly in regards to their customers health and well-being. How The Honest Company reacts to this scandal will determine how much damage this will do to their brand.
The key with all PR exercises is to take control of the situation and put the customer first.
Hopefully, The Honest Company is able to correct its mistakes and ultimately protect its brand.